Preparations for the Visit

Video of the MRI Process

Audio of the MRI Scanner Sounds

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Parent Scanning FAQ

What is an MRI scan?

Magnetic Resonance Imaging, or MRI, is an imaging technique that uses a magnetic field to take pictures of structures in the body. We will be using it to take pictures of your child’s brain to see how it changes throughout development.

Is MRI safe for kids?

Yes. MRI is a harmless procedure as long as your child does not have any metal in or on his/her body. We take extra caution to ensure that your child is safe before entering the scanner. In addition to a MRI Safety Screening Form, we will use a handheld ferromagnetic detection device like the ones you see in airport security.

What can I expect during our visit?

Your child’s MRI visit will last up to two hours. The first half hour will be for preparation, which includes MRI safety screening and training on the games they’ll play in the scanner. After that, we will head over to the scanner and make sure all metal has been removed from your child’s body and clothing. If you choose to enter the scanning suite, we will need to do the same for you. We’ll then set your child up in the scanning suite and get started with the scan. The scan should last about an hour. You will be done with your visit as soon as the scan has completed.

Can I stay with my child throughout the entire scan?

As long as you are MRI safe, you are welcome to sit next to your child in the scanning suite during their MRI. We will determine whether or not you are safe using the MRI Safety Screening Form and a handheld ferromagnetic detection device. If you do accompany your child during the scan, you will be offered an extra pair of headphones to block out some of the noise made by the scanner. You may read a book or magazine during the scan as long as they do not contain staples or any other metal. If you are pregnant or have any other contraindications to MRI, we will have to ask you to wait in the lobby during your child’s scan. Our MRI Technicians will give you periodic updates throughout the duration of the scan.

What if I am unsafe to go into the scanner, but still want someone to accompany my child in the scanner?

If you are unable to accompany your child in the scanning suite, we would be more than happy to have a member of our team sit with them for the duration of the scan. We will be sure to give you periodic updates to let you know how things are going.

What will I be doing while my child is doing the training and the scan?

We suggest you bring a book or magazine to read while your child is busy with the training activities and scanning. When you first arrive, we will give you some MRI safety paperwork to fill out while we train your child on the games they’ll play during their scanning session. During the scan, you will have the option of sitting in the scanning suite with your child (as long as you are MRI safe) where you can read a book or magazine as long as it has no staples or metal on it. If your child does not need you in the scanning suite, you are welcome to sit in our lobby with a laptop, book or magazine.

If my child needs to go to the bathroom or is uncomfortable, can they leave the scanner?

Of course! Your child’s comfort is our number one priority! Your child will have a headset with a microphone where they will communicate with us at least once every 10 minutes. They will also have an emergency bulb that they can press to let us know to come in and get them out of the scanner quickly.

What can I do to prepare my child for the MRI?

We have posted a video to our website that you may show your child in the days leading up to the scan. The video includes the sounds they can expect to hear in the scanner, and shows them what an MRI machine looks like. You can discuss this video with your child. If any concerns come up that are not addressed here or in the video, be sure to call us. A member of our study team would be happy to discuss any concerns you or your child may have.

What should be worn during an MRI?

For safety purposes, it is important that your child (and you, if you plan to accompany them in the scanning suite) wear clothing that is free of metal during the MRI. Standard zippers on jeans are fine, but other items, such as underwire bras or sweaters with a metal zipper, will need to be removed before entering the scanning suite. If your child’s clothing has metal fasteners or elements that cannot be removed, they will be asked to change into a hospital gown for the scan. A locker will be provided to secure their belongings.

The scanning suite can get chilly at times. While we do provide a light blanket for your child during the scan, comfortable and warm clothing is encouraged!

How long will the MRI take?

The MRI scan will take about one hour to complete. However, the full appointment will be two to two and a half hours long. 

Does MRI use radiation?

No, MRI does not involve any radiation.