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MS Kids

What happens during an MRI

MRI brain scan
Receive a picture of your brain, just like this one!

A child or teen should know exactly what will happen during the MRI scan. Remember, MRI scans do not hurt and a lot of children and teens find it fun and interesting.

Before you can complete an MRI: Metal Implants

Since the MRI scanner is large magnet, it is sensitive to any metal including dental braces or permanent retainers. It is important to let the Research Coordinator know if you have worked with metal (i.e. grinding, welding) or if you had an injury with a metal object penetrating your skin, especially your face.  In addition, let the Research Coordinator know if you had surgeries or procedures that involved the use of metal rods, plates, screws, braces,clips, or have body piercings or tattoos. On the day of your visit, the MRI Technologist will ask you to complete a screening questionnaire about this.

What happens before an MRI

  • On the day of your appointment the Research Coordinator will accompany you to the MRI scan room. The MRI Technologist will ask you to fill out a screening form to ensure it is safe for you to complete the scan.
  • Right before the scan you will be asked to change into a hospital gown to feel more  comfortable and ensure that you do not have any metallic-like objects in your clothes or on your body (i.e. zippers, keys, cell-phones, etc). You will have to remove your watch, jewelry and all piercings. Your belongings will be kept safe during the scan.
  • The MRI technologist will take you to the scanning table, which resembles a narrow bed, and will position your body in preparation 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

  • If a research volunteer comes with a parent/friend, they are welcome to sit outside the MRI scan room, where the technologist will do their work. If a parent needs to be in the same room as the child, the parent needs to be screened and not have any metal devices that can affect the MRI scan.
    MRI technologist
  • The technologist is able to see you and the scanner through a window and you are able to communicate with each other at all times through a two-way communication system.
  • 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 these sequences of noises, as the MRI machine is obtaining picture of images at these times.
  • The images are taken in sets lasting up  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. If you need to wiggle or sneeze, it is important to let the MRI technologist know so they can stop the scanner.
  • Some children fall asleep during the scan – that’s okay!

What happens after an MRI

  • The MRI technologist will help you get up from the scanning table.
  • The Research Coordinator will meet you in the MRI scan room to resume the rest the study visit.
  •  If you wish, we can mail you an MRI picture of your brain!