Pediatric Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

Pediatric Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

children's MRI machine and technician


Pediatric Magnetic Resonance Imaging, or MRI, uses radiofrequency to create two- and three-dimensional images of your child’s body, without the use of radiation. MRI for children is versatile and especially useful to see tissues and organs anywhere in the body that otherwise may only be seen through surgery, such as:

  • Blood vessels
  • Bone marrow
  • Brain
  • Soft tissue, muscle, ligaments, tendons and cartilage
  • Spine

At Children’s Health, our specialized MRI facilities are designed specifically for children in order to get the highest quality images in the shortest amount of time. Our MRI scanners are certified by the American College of Radiology for image quality and our technologists are fully experienced in working with children of all ages with a wide range of conditions.

What to Expect

Your child will be required to remove any clothing with metal and change into a gown prior to their MRI study.  Your child’s exam may require contrast or dye for the pictures that will be taken in MRI. This is given either orally or through an IV, depending on the study.

The MRI technologists are experienced with pediatric patients of all ages and medical conditions.   They will help to position your child on the MRI table according to the type of scan required. While many children are positioned on their backs, some scans require children to lie on their stomachs or sides, head first or feet first.

The MRI machine looks like a small tunnel and the exam table moves through the opening of that tunnel. The scan is quite loud, so your child will be given ear plugs to help block out some of the noise. Once your child is comfortable on the table, a red light will come on to help align his or her body to the correct position for the scan. Your child will then be moved into the tunnel of the MRI scanner.

Often, children require anesthesia during an MRI. If this is the case with your child, he or she will be cared for in our Radiology Anesthesia Unit by pediatric nurses and anesthesiologists before and after their imaging study. Following your child’s pre-procedural assessment by our team, they will be escorted to MRI and you will be asked to wait in the waiting room until the test is completed.

The anesthesiologists are present throughout the procedure to continuously monitor your child and ensure their comfort. Our Child Life Team works with children and parents to prepare them for upcoming procedures and help alleviate any anxiety. Our pediatric nurses begin caring for your child before you walk through the door and continue care after you take your child home, remaining accessible to answer post-procedure questions and concerns. 

After the technologist leaves the scanning room, the MRI will begin. The MRI scan can take from 30 minutes to one hour for each body part being examined.


Why is my child having an MRI scan instead of an X-ray?
While MRI and X-ray are both imaging techniques, MRI can take more detailed 3-D images of organs, tissues and blood vessels without exposing your child to radiation.

Will my child feel any pain with the MRI?
Your child will feel no pain during the exam. Because it is important that your child stay very still during the exam, anesthesia is often given depending on your child’s age, length of the exam needed and their medical condition. The anesthesia will be administered through an IV in your child’s hand, arm or foot and your child may feel a slight pinch when the IV is started.

Can I stay with my child during the MRI?
During the study, you will be asked to wait in the waiting room until the test is completed. We understand this can be stressful and we do all we can to make sure that you are separated from your child for the shortest amount of time possible.


National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Engineering

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