How to Prepare for Your Child's Conscious Sedation

What is an MRI?
An MRI is a test that uses a large magnet, radio waves, and a computer to take pictures of the inside of the body. The MRI scanner is a big, special camera that has a tunnel with a bed that moves in and out.

Why is it done?
An MRI is used to produce 2-3 dimensional images of your organs, tissues, and bones. An MRI is helpful to diagnose conditions and plan for treatment.

What to expect during the procedure:

Stage 1: Getting ready
  • A staff member will show you and your child into a private room on the pediatric unit to get ready for the exam and record your child's vital signs. A hospital gown will be provided for your child.
  • A nurse will bring you and your child to a procedure room for the IV. After the IV is placed, a nurse will take you back to your room to wait until it's time for the MRI.

Stage 2: Sedation
  • When your child is ready, a nurse will walk him/her to the Induction Room where they receive their "sleepy medicine" sedation.
  • A Pediatric Intensivist will talk with you and your child about receiving sedation via the IV.
  • Next, MRI staff will ask if your child has any metal on them (jewelry, watch, pacemaker). If your child is curious, explain that the MRI scanner uses big magnets to take pictures, so metal cannot be near it.
  • Your child is then moved into the Scanner Room and attended by MRI staff to ensure they feel secure.
  • You will be taken to the waiting area near the MRI room.

Stage 3: Pictures
  • MRI exam will take approximately one hour.
  • When your child's pictures are complete the nurse and Pediatric Intensivist will escort you and your child back to the pediatric unit for recovery.
  • Recovery generally takes around an hour, depending on how long it takes your child to wake up from sedation. Your child's nurse will closely monitor his or her vital signs during recovery.

Tips for Preparing Your Child for a MRI with Sedation

Toddlers (1-3 years old)
  • Begin preparing your child the day before.
  • Let your child know that he or she will have special pictures taken, so the doctor can learn about his or her body.
  • Use simple words to describe what your child will experience.
  • Reassure your child that you will be close.
  • Bring comfort items with you, such as a favorite blanket.
Preschool and School Age (4 and up)
  • Begin preparing your child about 1-3 days in advance.
  • Talk to your child about why the doctor wants to take special pictures of the inside of his or her body. For example, "So the doctor can learn more about how your body works."
  • Use simple words to describe what your child may experience.
  • Let your child know that a doctor will be giving them special medicine to help them sleep during the procedure, but you will be there when they wake up.
  • Encourage your child to ask questions.