Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) uses a strong magnetic field and radio waves and a special computer to convert the information into images of the body. These pictures are cross-sectional images, or slices, of the body that can be viewed sequentially as if flipping through pages of a book.
Depending on the type of exam, your child may need an IV line, to receive dye (contrast). This contrast is meant to highlight organs or blood vessels. Please let us know if your child has ever had a reaction to contrast, your child may need additional preparation.
The magnetic field is safe as long as there are no metallic objects or devices on or inside the body. Before entering the room, you will have to answer a screening questionnaire and remove jewelry or clothing containing metal.
If your child is younger than 6 years of age or cannot lay still for extended periods of time, sedation may be required. This is performed at WakeMed Hospital with the use of a dedicated sedation team, for the patient’s safety. In the absence of sedation, special preparation is not required.
Your child should be dressed in comfortable clothes that can be easily removed; a hospital gown may be required. Avoid wearing jewelry and any metallic items in clothes, such as snaps, zippers and buckles.
Please plan to arrive between 15-30 min prior to your scheduled appointment. Check-in and registration are completed at the front desk. The technologist will escort you to a room and discuss the study with you, why the examination was ordered, along with the screening questionnaire. He/she will provide your child with the oral contrast to drink prior to the exam; if the study is an MR Enterography (MRE). An IV may be placed in the arm if the study is ordered “with contrast.”
You and your child will then be brought into the MRI room. In the room there is a long thin table and a large machine that looks like a large tube or tunnel, containing a strong magnet. Your child will lay on the table and the table will slide into the machine/magnet. Depending on the type of exam, the patient will be positioned head-first or feet-first. The space in the MRI is small, please let us know if your child has a fear of small spaces. Your child will have to stay very still for the exam for the images to come out well, please let us know if your child will not be able to stay still. The MRI machine is quite loud, we will provide your child with earplugs during the exam. Once the patient is comfortable, the technologist will be seated outside of the room, at a console behind the observation window. Instructions are delivered over a two-way speaker. The technologist can easily communicate with you and your child through the speaker system.
The review process might be slightly delayed as the Pediatric Radiologist decides upon further imaging. He/she will thoroughly analyze the images and send their findings to your referring physician.
If your child received contrast please ensure that they are properly hydrated throughout the day.
Will I be able to stay with my child?
Yes, you will be able to stay in the room with your child. You will have to answer the screening questions for yourself and your child in order to enter the room. Please note, siblings and pregnant women cannot be present during the exam.
How long is the exam?
The exam can take 30-60 minutes.
Do you offer sedated exams?
No. We will refer you to Wake Med hospital for a sedated exam.
Does the exam use radiation?
No. MRI uses a magnetic field and radiowaves.
Is MRI safe?
Yes. There is no known harmful effects as long as there are no internal metallic objects or devices. The exam does not hurt. Your child will hear the humming and thumping of the machine, this is normal.