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MS Kids

What happens during an MRI

A child or teen should know exactly what what they will see, hear and feel during an MRI s.  Here is a description of what happens before, during and after an MRI scan. Remember, MRI scans do not hurt.

What happens before an MRI?

  • Before you go into the MRI scanning room, the staff will ask you some questions to make sure you have no problems being near the strong magnet in the MRI scanner. There are some metal devices and implants that make it impossible to have an MRI. It is also important to share with the MRI technologist if you have piercings or tattoos, if you have worked with metal (grinding or welding) and if you had any injuries involving a metallic object penetrating the skin.
  • You will be asked to change into a hospital gown and remove all jewelry including your watch.
  • The MRI technologist or nurse will prepare you for the procedure, which may include providing oral or intravenous sedation or intravenous contrast.
  • The MRI technologist will take you to the scanning table, which resembles a narrow bed, and will position you for the scan.
  • Before the MRI begins, the table is moved inside the doughnut-shaped magnet. After the machine is adjusted, the MRI begins.

What happens during an MRI?

  • Parents or guardians are welcome to sit outside the MRI scan room where the MRI technologist will do their work. If a parent needs to be in the same room as the patient, the parent needs to be screened and not have any metal devices, including coins, keys, pens, cell phones, wallets, and bank cards that can affect the MRI scanner.
  • The MRI technologist is able to see the patient through a window and they are able to communicate with each other at all times through a two-way communication system. The technologist can also see the scanner through the window.
    MRI technologist
  • During the procedure, you will hear several series of loud, repetitive pulsing noises. It is important to let young children know this is expected. The noises are harmless and indicate that the machine is working.
  • Ear plugs or protective headphones are provided. Some scanners have movie goggles or you can bring a music player to listen to during the scan.
  • It is particularly important to remain completely still during the sequences of noises, as the MRI machine is obtaining pictures during this time.
    The images are taken in “sets” lasting anywhere between a few minutes to 15 minutes for each set. The technologist lets you know when each set starts and finishes. 
  • Your job is to  lie still during these sets in order to obtain good quality images.
  • Some children fall asleep during the scan.

What happens after an MRI?

The MRI technologist will help you get up from the scanning table. If intravenous contrast has been used, this is removed from your arm at this time.
You are welcome to resume all normal activities. A radiologist will send a report to the referring physician. If you are seeing the doctor on the same day of the scan, you may discuss the MRI scan results with your physician.

REMEMBER:

  • The MRI machine is noisy but does not hurt.
  • You must stay still for clear pictures.
  • You can bring a music player or a DVD to watch during the scan

For healthy children and teens volunteering in our research program and completing an MRI, please visit What happens during an MRI