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MRI is a routine diagnostic imaging exam that uses a large magnet, radio waves and a computer to produce 2- and 3-dimensional images of your child's body's organs, tissues and bones.
An MRI scan is:
Performing MRIs in children poses unique challenges. The Division of MRI at Boston Children's provides a soothing, kid-friendly environment with:
An MRI scanner is a large, tube-shaped magnet that provides a strong magnetic field around your child. A radiofrequency coil is placed over the part of your child's body that needs to be imaged. The magnetic field, along with applied radiofrequency waves, temporarily alters the alignment of hydrogen protons found in water molecules within the body. Computers construct the images based on the radiofrequency signals emitted by the protons.
MRI is often used to obtain specific diagnostic information not already provided by other imaging technologies such as computed tomography (CT), nuclear medicine, ultrasound and x-ray.
For abdominal scans, your child may be asked to refrain from eating or drinking for four to six hours and will be required to drink a solution upon arrival before the scan begins. It is important that you follow all instructions or the scan may need to be rescheduled.
When you arrive, please go to the MRI radiology check-in desk on the second floor of the main hospital in Boston or the first floor check-in desk at our Waltham facility. An ambulatory service representative will check your child in and verify her registration information.
We will give you a safety screening questionnaire to fill out for your child:
Your child may be able to watch a movie or listen to music during the scan. If you brought a movie or iPod from home, you can give it to the MRI team member. Otherwise, your child can choose a movie or music from the department's collection.
When your child is brought into the scanner room:
An MRI technologist will perform your child's scan. You may stay in the scanner room with your child unless the MRI safety screening questionnaire indicates that it is not safe for you to do so. You will also be given earplugs to wear in the room.
Sometimes, patients receive a substance called gadolinium during the scan, which is needed to provide additional information about some parts of the body. Gadolinium is given through an injection into your child's vein.
MRI scans consist of several sequences of a few minutes' duration each that, in total, take anywhere from 20 to 90 minutes, depending on the information required by the radiologist and your physician. We will give you a more specific time frame before the scan begins.
MR makes music!
When the MRI scan is done, your child will be ready to go home. The radiologist will review the images and create a report of the findings and diagnosis for your referring doctor.
The radiologist's report will be sent to the physician who requested the exam and your child's doctor will then discuss the results with you. If there is a finding on the scan that requires urgent attention, we will contact the referring physician in order to discuss the findings and plan further treatment.
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