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Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Information for Kids

A boy wearing a blue hospital gown with a multicolored pattern on it sits up as he prepares to enter the MRI machine. A woman wearing blue scrubs with a paisley flower design on it stands next to him with her hand on his shoulder.

A kid-friendly overview of an MRI 

We thought you should know what happens when you have an MRI at Children’s Hospital Colorado. Please read this information with your parents and let us know if you have any questions when you come to the hospital. We will answer them before your test.

What is an MRI?

An MRI is a large machine that helps us to see how different parts of your body are working and will help us know the best way to take care of you. Your parents are allowed to be with while we take your pictures.

Your parents will bring you to the hospital before the test so you can have time to do the following things before your MRI begins:

  1. Admissions check-in: At the admissions desk you will be given an identification bracelet with your name and medical record number on it. Lots of people will look at your bracelet throughout the day to make sure you are the right child for the MRI.
  2. Radiology check-in: After receiving your plastic bracelet from admissions, you will go to the Radiology check-in desk. Here your parents will be given some papers to fill out.
  3. Child life specialist: When you check into Radiology, a child life specialist will meet with you (if you are 3 years and older) and your parents to talk to you about the MRI. You will look at pictures, be able to hear the sounds of the MRI and learn about holding still. The child life specialist will also let you know how long the pictures will take and answer all of your questions.
  4. Changing room: After meeting with the child life specialist we will take you to the changing room so you can put on a hospital gown or hospital pajamas that you will wear while your pictures are being taken. You will need to remove everything except your underwear and socks. If your parents go with you into the scanner, they will also wear a hospital gown.
  5. MRI technologist: Before your MRI begins, you will meet an MRI technologist. This person’s job is to get you ready for the scan and take your pictures. This technologist will tell you everything you need to know. The technologist will give you earplugs and headphones so you can watch a movie during your scan. They will also give you a soft ball in case you absolutely have to talk to them after the scan has begun.
  6. MRI scanner: Remember that your most important job during the MRI is to lie still. That way we can get the best pictures for you. If you move, the pictures won’t turn out well and you will have to stay in the scanner longer. Just try to relax and watch your movie.

  7. All done!: When the scan is finished you will return to the changing room to put your clothes back on.

  8. Results: The radiologist will look at the pictures and give a report to your ordering physician, usually within 24 hours. The ordering physician will then contact your parents for further management.