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For Parents: Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

What is an MRI?

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a diagnostic imaging procedure which utilizes magnets to produce detailed images of the body’s organs and structures.

Preparing for your child's MRI at Children's Hospital Colorado

You will need to arrive at the hospital 1 hour and 15 minutes before the procedure for a sedated MRI or 45 minutes prior for a non-sedated scan. This will give you time to complete the following steps:

A kid lies down in an MRI machine while a woman stands next to it.
  1. Admissions check-in: After you arrive at Children’s Colorado, please proceed to the admission's desk. Here your child will be given a patient I.D. bracelet. Staff will be checking this bracelet throughout the day to make sure your child is having the right procedure done.
  2. Radiology check-in: Once you have checked in at admissions, you will go to the Radiology check-in desk. Here we will ask you to fill out paperwork, so please bring a list of your child’s medications along with your insurance card. These forms will provide information about you and your child to make sure there are no medical issues that may interfere with the MRI.
  3. Child life specialist: When you check into Radiology, a child life specialist will meet with you and your child (if they are 3 years and older) to provide preparation for the scan. This conversation will include a thorough overview including what the scanner looks like, a sample of the MRI sounds, the scan set up and the importance of lying still for the scan. The length of the scan will depend upon the part of the body being scanned. Some scans also require that contrast be administered through a vein. Contrast helps us to better see certain parts of your child's organs and structures. If this is needed, the child life specialist will go over the process and assess the level of support your child may require for placement. Any questions or concerns you have will be addressed at this time.
  4. Changing room: Parents and guardians are welcome to accompany their child into the MRI but will be asked to change into a gown to do so. You may keep on your underwear but will need to remove any clothing. such as your bra (mothers may wear a sports bra if there is no metal), or accessories, that have metal on them. This is because the MRI machine is basically one big magnet and magnets attract metal. The metal from your clothing or accessories could interfere with the photos from the scan. In the changing room, your child will also be put into a hospital gown. Any electronic products, such as cell phones, charge cards, etc. will be ruined by the MRI and should be left in the changing room locker provided. You may want to consider bringing a book or a magazine to read during the scan.
  5. MRI technologist: Before the MRI begins, you will be met by an MRI technologist who will review you and your child’s information. The MRI technologist will also be the person who will set up the scan and take the images of your child.
  6. MRI scanner: During the scan, your child will need to lie perfectly still in order for us to capture clear images. Parents/guardians may be in the room but cannot interact with your child during the procedure or the MRI scanner will not be able to get clear images and may result in your child needing to spend extra time in the scanner. Some parents choose not to accompany their child, and it is up to you whether you’d like to do so. Once the scan is complete, we will return your child to you in the radiology waiting area. If you choose to stay with your child during the scan, you may both return to the changing room to get dressed upon completion.