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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 the body's organs, tissues, and bones.
Sometimes, MRIs need to be performed under general anesthesia. In these cases, the Division of MRI at Boston Children's Hospital 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 body part that is 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.
Movement will cause the MRI pictures to be blurred. Your child must lie still during the MRI scan. The use of anesthesia will cause your child to go to sleep and remain motionless and comfortable during the scan.
While speaking with an anesthesia assessment nurse and scheduling your MRI appointment, you will receive verbal preparation instructions that include dietary restrictions. It is very important that you follow all these instructions or the scan may need to be rescheduled.
It is helpful to give your child a simple explanation as to why an MRI is needed. You may want to bring your child's favorite book, toy, or comfort object to occupy him or her during waiting times.
When you arrive, please go to the MRI radiology check-in desk on the second floor of the main hospital. An patient experience representative will check in your child and verify his or her registration information.
We will give you safety screening questionnaires to fill out for you and your child:
When your paperwork is complete, you will be taken to an MRI exam room where:
Your sedation nurse will:
All females who have begun their period, or who are over the age of 12, will be required to provide a urine sample for a pregnancy test.
It is important to notify the nurse of any active or recent illness, allergy, or previous drug reaction. You are encouraged to ask questions throughout the process.
Once the sedation nurse has finished examining your child, the anesthesia team will:
When the anesthesia team members have completed their exam, your child will be transported into the scanner room. If the anesthesiologist determines that you can accompany your child into the scanner room (only one parent would be allowed), you will be allowed to stay in the room until your child is asleep. You will then be escorted to the waiting area.
Once your child is asleep:
An MRI technologist will perform your child's scan and the anesthesia team will continue to monitor your child.
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 the IV.
MRI scans consist of several sequences of a few minutes duration each that cumulatively 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:
When your child is ready to go home:
A wheelchair with a safety strap will be used to transport your child to the car. You and your child may not walk or take public transportation after this appointment. A recovery room nurse will call the next morning to make sure that your child has fully recovered from the anesthesia.
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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