How to Prepare Yourself and Your Child For Their MRI

July 29, 2019 – 4 min read

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image of a white woman with long hair sitting on a grey couch next to a young girl, both are looking at a laptop in the woman's lap and smiling slightly

Getting an MRI can be a nerve-wracking experience for anyone. While it is painless and a relatively easy procedure, many people get anxious about the tight, closed space, lying still, and the pending results. We have published several posts addressing what you can do to help calm your nerves and make your experience a comfortable one, many people have asked us how to explain the procedure and help keep their little ones as comfortable as possible. Join us in today’s post as we offer a few suggestions to help prepare you and your child for their MRI.

At Touchstone Medical Imaging, we make every effort to keep our patients comfortable, and that means explaining the procedure in a way that the patient can understand, even our smallest ones! Before we dive into some tips for quelling your kids; fears, let’s answer a few commonly asked questions about MRI for children.

Are MRIs common for children?

MRIs for children are not nearly as common as they are for adults. However, some clinical indications may lead your child’s doctor to recommend an MRI.

Are MRIs safe for kids?

As we have discussed in previous posts, MRI uses very large magnets, not radiation, so it is much safer for children than a standard MRI and won’t cause any long-term effects.

Can parents accompany children during the MRI?

Of course you can attend the appointment with your child, in fact, we can’t see them without you present! And while you may accompany them through the majority of the appointment, you will not be able to accompany them into the MRI itself. You are more than welcome to be in the exam room and watch the MRI, for safety, we cannot allow you in the magnetic field.

Tips For Preparing Your Child For Their MRI

Preparing your child for an MRI is like preparing them for anything else that is new and unfamiliar. Children read the tone of their parents to guide how they feel about things and how they will react. And, preparation is largely dependent on the age and maturity of the child. Here, we will offer just a few tips to help prepare you and your child for their MRI, but if you have any questions about it, feel free to contact us before their appointment for guidance.

1. Explain what to expect

Kids are curious, it’s how they learn. It doesn’t matter if they are two or 17, explain to them exactly what is going to happen during their MRI, why it is important, and what to expect. It is human nature to fear that which we do not understand, so the more you talk about it and assure them of what is normal, it will help put your child at ease and make them feel more comfortable, and maybe even excited about it. Older kids may want to do their own research or watch relevant YouTube videos to make the information more relevant.

If you aren’t sure what to expect, that’s okay. Contact your medical imaging team at your diagnostic medical imaging center to get the information you need.

2. Answer their questions.

To help ensure your child fully understands what their MRI will entail and why it is important, be sure to patiently answer all of their questions. Kids may have some seemingly irrelevant questions, that to them, make the difference between terror and comfort. Be direct, be honest, and answer all of their questions as best as you can. If you don’t know the answer to one of their MRI questions, look it up together. You can try checking out our MRI page or our Frequently Asked MRI Questions for more information.

3. Explain things in terms they can understand.

Medical terminology is difficult for the average person to understand and makes concepts seem more foreign and scary. Explaining MRI in simple, age-appropriate terms they can understand can help them better grasp what is about to happen. When you, or their medical imaging team, speak in terms they cannot understand, it can leave them feeling like their medical decisions are being made for them and the pending MRI is out of their control.

4. Reassure them.

Reassure them often, that the MRI will be okay. Tell them that it won’t hurt and that it will be over soon. Do not lie or minimize the event, but reassure them that they are strong and brave and the MRI will go okay. You can also assure them that you will be right there the entire time, able to see and hear them if they need you.

Reassuring your child serves two purposes. First, it puts them at ease and makes them feel more comfortable as well as making you feel more comfortable about it as well. And, with all the reassurance and your presence during their procedure, it can be a real trust-building moment.

If your child has been referred for an MRI by their primary care provider (PCP), visit us online to find a Touchstone location near you and schedule your appointment today!