MRIs, or magnetic resonance imaging, is a medical imaging technique that is useful in a variety of situations. Hopefully, your family never needs the services of an MRI to diagnose medical issues, but if for some reason you find yourself booking an MRI appointment for your child, preparing them and yourself for the procedure is an important step in creating a positive attitude around the test. It will also ensure that the MRI procedure goes well and your physician can relay results quickly and accurately to you. 

Preparing a Child for an MRI

An MRI is a radiation-free imaging test that allows doctors to diagnose health issues ranging from brain and spinal cord disorders to assessing heart conditions. This procedure is safe for even small children and pregnant mothers. An MRI procedure can take a handful of minutes or up to a couple of hours to complete, which is why preparing your child for an MRI, especially small children, is important so that the test runs smoothly. 

Learn more about MRI procedures at NuChoice Imaging.

Prior to arrival

You should start preparing your child for the MRI before the actual appointment takes place. Simply talking to your child about the upcoming MRI is the most important step to take prior to arriving at the imaging center appointment. You know your child best, and some kiddos might feel less anxious if they know ALL the facts about the machinery, the physicians, and what the results might be the outcome. Some kids would rather know only the basics. Regardless, having a conversation about the procedure will soothe most anxieties

Don’t fib to your child; if you don’t know the answer to some of their questions regarding the appointment, bring the questions into the appointment and let the expert staff handle them. Kids are information sponges and they often just want age-appropriate facts instead of funny euphemisms. 

Preparing for an MRI


Besides talking to your child about the procedure, you can prepare your child for the MRI by practicing MRI scans at home with them. Since MRIs can take up to a couple of hours to complete depending on the health concern, practicing beforehand will eliminate the surprise of having to lie still and unmoving for a long amount of time. The loud noises of the MRI scan and the confined tube-like structure of the technology might scare little ones as well, so it could be beneficial to make a pillow fort tunnel for the child to practice lying down in. Make it a fun game to see how long they can lie still in their “pillow fort”. 

Before the procedure

Try to arrive promptly at your child’s imaging center appointment. As you’ve probably experienced, children can pick up on stress and the last thing you want to add to your child’s appointment day is more anxiety. Follow any pre-appointment instructions that your physician has given you. This might include limiting food and drink a certain amount of hours before the MRI scan, removing your child’s metal jewelry or hair clips, and how many adults can be in the room before, during, and after the procedure. 

Preparing Your Child for an MRI

If a contrast fluid is required for your child’s MRI, this will be injected as quickly and painlessly as possible. Contrast fluid will be injected as quickly and painlessly asSedation might also be necessary and that is something you and your physician will discuss beforehand, with plenty of time to prep your child for any upcoming discomfort of needles. 

While you wait/Comfort your child during their MRI

After you’ve successfully prepared your child for an MRI scan, it’s now time for the actual procedure. If you have other children with you, make sure there is another adult present to supervise them while they wait for their sibling’s imaging scan to be completed. Most physicians encourage a parent or guardian to be present at the bedside at the time of the MRI to help keep the child calm and create a sense of safety. Even after prepping at home, practicing lying in a confined space, and hashing out all the details of the appointment, it can still be a scary experience for little ones. 

Some offices will allow your child to bring a stuffed animal (with no metal parts) or a stress ball for children to hold during the scan. Make sure to ask the imaging center staff if movies, music, or your kid’s favorite audiobook can be played during a long MRI. Keeping the patient calm, still, and comfortable is the best way to ensure that the procedure is successful and keep the time in the MRI machine as short as possible. 

After the procedure

Since MRIs are non-invasive procedures, there is generally no recovery time (unless a sedated MRI was performed) and any contrast material given to the patient will pass through the body in 24 hours. The MRI image results will be read by a radiologist who is expertly trained in the task. These results will be sent to your physicians to be discussed with you. If a follow-up appointment has not been set with your child’s doctor, contact their office to set this up.

Preparing Your Child for an MRI

Contact us today if you think you may be a good candidate for MRI services at NuChoice Imaging.