Magnetic Resonance Imaging

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a safe and painless diagnostic test that uses a magnetic field and radio waves to produce detailed pictures of the body’s organs and structure. MRI can be used to detect many conditions, including problems with the brain, spinal cord, bones, chest, lungs, abdomen, pelvis, wrists, hands, ankles or feet. It can often provide experts with more information about what’s happening within the body than an X-ray, CT scan or Ultrasound.

Our radiology team at SSM Health Cardinal Glennon work with you to ensure your child is happy and comfortable during their MRI. Interactive MRI suites in the Imaging Center allow young patients to choose their favorite color theme using an iPad. During the MRI, kids can select a favorite video to watch on a flat-screen TV on the ceiling above the MRI.

Many children have difficulty lying still and may need sedation for their MRI. Our team works with families during the scheduling process to determine if your child needs sedation. Our nurses and physicians are trained in sedation and will guide you through the process.

MRI Silent Scan

The Imaging Center at SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital has the latest, most advanced MRI technology. Our 3T MRI scanner now has the enhanced feature of “Silent Scan.”  This is a unique technology that eliminates the acoustic noise of the MRI scan and can reduce anxiety for young children.

Preparing for an MRI

Depending on the part of the body being examined, an MRI can take 30 minutes to an hour.  Prior to the exam:

  • Dress your child comfortably in clothes that are easily removed (sweat pants, t-shirts). If needed, we will provide a gown for your child to change into.
  • It’s important that your child uses bathroom to empty their bladder before going to the MRI scanning room.
  • If your child has a known allergy to radiographic contrast, additional preparations may be necessary.

MRI Safety

MRI does not pose any risks unless your child has an implanted metal object or device in their body. For this reason, your child will be screened to ensure they are safe to enter the magnetic field. All jewelry and metal (zippers, snaps) must be removed prior to entering the scanner room.

If your child has an implant or device, our MRI team must approve its safety before the exam. To do this, we will ask for the following information:

  • Name of manufacturer
  • Date of placement
  • Name of device and composition (composition may not be listed but we can research it if needed)

An MRI exam is not recommended for patients with:

  • Defibrillators (IAED)
  • Pacemakers
  • PCA pumps
  • Transdermal medication patches
  • Women who are pregnant (1st trimester)

Children with vagal nerve stimulators or programmable VP shunts will need special care before entering the MRI exam.

What should you expect during the exam?

A technologist will bring your child into the scanning room and position them on the MRI table according to the type of MRI they are getting. Once your child is comfortable on the table, a red light (laser) will come on to help align their body to the correct position for the scan. Your child will then be moved into the tunnel of the MRI scanner and the technologists go to a viewing room attached to the MRI suite.

Depending on the type of machine, the MRI scanner makes many series of loud noises, each of which may sound somewhat different. There will be a brief pause after each sequence. The technologist may give your child directions or prompts through the headphones or over an overhead speaker. There is a microphone in the scanner that will allow  your child to talk to the technologist if they need to.

The technologist will ask your child to hold very still during the scan. Any type of movement during the MRI will make the images appear blurry, so the scan may have to be repeated. This will make the test take longer.

Your child will not feel the magnetic field from the MRI scan, but may become uncomfortable from holding still. The MRI scan can take from 30 minutes to one hour for each body part being examined. When scanning multiple areas of the body, the scan may take even longer. Regardless of your child’s needs, the MRI team and our Child Life specialist are there to help with the experience in the best way possible.

What should you do after the exam?

If your child received contrast, give your child plenty of water to drink during the day. If your child received sedation, you can join your child in the recovery room after the exam.

Test Results

Our SLUCare Physician Group radiologists will review the images, interpret any findings, and send the results to your physician's office. It may take several days for your physician to review the findings and images and make clinical decisions on the next step for your child’s medical care.

At SSM Health Cardinal Glennon, we look forward to caring for your child. With an experienced staff and state-of-the-art imaging technology, you can count on us to deliver the excellent care your child needs. To schedule your appointment today, please call 314-577-5652.

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