MRI Magnetic Resonance Imaging, (MRI) is a medical diagnostic imaging technique used to diagnose and plan the treatment of many diseases. Compared to imaging techniques that use X-rays, such as computerized axial tomography (CAT), an MRI generates detailed 2D and 3D images of the soft tissues of the body. These images greatly improve the ability for doctors to distinguish between normal and abnormal tissues.
To produce an image, an MRI scanner uses a powerful magnet to generate a magnetic field. When a patient lies within this field, the nuclei of proton atoms within the body align themselves with the magnetic field. Radio frequency (RF) waves are then pulsed through the body, causing the nuclei to change their alignment with respect to the axis of the magnetic field. As the proton atoms return to their previous state after each RF pulse, they produce faint, distinctive radio signals. These signals are detected by coils around the body and processed by a computer to produce images of internal structures. The magnetic field is quite strong and always on. Due to the strong magnetic field each patient or visitor entering the magnet room will be screened for any metallic surgical implants and any loose metallic items, such as jewelry, watches, keys, hair pins, etc.
What You Can Expect
MRIs are painless and do not involve any ionizing radiation. However, MRI scanners are quite loud when producing images and ear protection, such as ear plugs or headphones will be provided for patients. An entertainment system is available for patients to watch movies or cartoons during the MRI. The MRI technologist will perform a thorough MRI safety screening, consisting of a patient-provided form and use of a metal detector. A parent or caregiver is welcome to accompany a patient into the magnet room . Most MRI's take about one hour.
How You Can Prepare
Please arrive on time as a courtesy to other patients. To help ensure your child’s safety bring a list of your child’s medications and information about any internal surgical implant your child may have. Your child should wear clothing without metal, such as zippers, buckles, or snaps. Hospital garments or scrubs will be provided if needed. Patients are encouraged to bring their favorite DVD to watch or CD to listen to music. Follow any and all eating instructions given by the MRI nurse. If your child is being sedated for the MRI procedure, a Riley Radiology Nurse will call a week prior to your scheduled MRI with specific eating and arrival instructions . On the day of your child’s MRI procedure, a Riley Anesthesiologist will discuss with you the sedation process. After the MRI procedure, your child will be monitored by a Riley Radiology RN until it is time for your child to safely leave the hospital. An MRI receptionist will call 2-3 days in advance to confirm your appointment time, eating instructions, arrival time and begin the surgical implant screening process.
The MRI scanner contains a highly magnetic field. The MRI Safe Zone is strictly monitored for your safety. We check for any loose metal hazards that might be attracted by the strong magnetic field Anyone planning to enter the MRI scan room must first walk though a metal prescreening device. Before entering the prescreening area, we will ask you to remove the following items: keys, pagers, cell phones, wrist watches, ink pens, pocket knives, hair clips/pins, jewelry, body piercing, tools hard sole shoes, wired undergarments with metal clasps or hooks belts, suspenders, support braces and any other items contain ferrous metal.
What Happens During an MRI Procedure
Once your child is prepared for the MRI, he or she will be positioned on the MRI table by a pediatric-trained MRI technologist. The MRI technologist will ensure your child is as comfortable as possible, informed of the entire procedure before beginning the scan and asked to remain very still during the imaging process to ensure high quality images. If your child is not being sedated for the procedure, a parent or caregiver may be present for the entire MRI. Once the scanning begins, your child will be constantly monitored by the pediatric trained MRI technologist who will give your child instructions throughout the exam. Your child may be given instructions to hold their breath for particular cardiac and abdominal imaging, and told when to release breath by the technologist.
Parents may want to preview the Starlight Radiology Center created by the Starlight Children's Foundation to see if the "MR check in" interactive video is age appropriate for your child. The video shows the steps and sounds of the MRI scanner and talks about the possibility of iv contrast.
What Happens After the MRI Procedure?
Your child’s MRI results will be made available to your referring physician within 24-48 hours. Your physician will then contact you with the results and discuss further options and treatments available for your child based on the MRI results.