General Phone: (281) 298-1144  | Gulf Coast is Open!  San Antonio Location Coming Soon!

Skip to main content

Preparing Your Child for a Successful MRI Scan

Preparing Your Child for a Successful MRI Scan

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is one of the most valuable tools for seeing inside your child’s body and identifying the physical reasons for their symptoms. But MRIs also cause significant anxiety for parents, as they worry about how their child will tolerate the scan.

The remarkable team at THINK Neurology for Kids truly understands your concerns. They have helped many families navigate the challenges of the MRI procedure.

When your child needs an MRI, our skilled professional team — Shaun S. Varghese, MD, Cristina R. Marchesano, MD, Lorena Herbert, MD, Barbara Kiersz-Mueller, DO, Lauren Weaver, MD, Alicia Walls, MD, Sundeep Mandava, MD, Jennifer E. Martin, CPNP-PC, Tammy DeLaGarza, FNP-C, Robby Korah, FNP-C, Una Childers, PA-C, MPAS, and Heather King, CPNP-PC — has one focus: 

Ensuring their comfort and creating the best possible experience.

Parents can lay the groundwork for a successful MRI by following these tips:

Reassure your child you’ll be with them

Remind your child you’ll be with them the entire time. If you can’t be in the room for any reason (for example, pregnant women can’t stay in the room), one of our caring team members stays with your child throughout the procedure.

Teach them about the MRI procedure

Getting an MRI is easier when children know what to expect. At the same time, learning about the procedure makes some kids more anxious and frightened. Their age also factors into the amount of information they can process.

While parents should use their best judgment and tell their children what they can manage, it’s essential to give them some idea about what the MRI machine looks like and what happens during the scan.

You may show them pictures of the machine and joke about how it looks like a donut. Or draw a comic showing a simplified version of the machine, the bed they lay on, and how the bed moves in and out of the tunnel.

Emphasize it doesn’t hurt

They will hear the machine, but they won’t feel anything. MRIs never hurt.

Prepare them for the noise

The MRI machine makes a loud buzzing sound and occasionally clogs or clicks. Children need to be ready for the noise when the MRI starts. Otherwise, they may be startled or frightened, move out of position, or need to stop the scan.

We give your child earplugs or headphones to block the sound, but they will still hear some noise. Help them prepare by listening to recordings of the MRI noises online. You may also watch videos showing the device's inner workings responsible for the sounds, if appropriate for your child’s age and anxiety level.

Practice lying still

Your child must stay still throughout the MRI scan, which could take 30 minutes or longer. The image won't be clear if they move.

Use a couch to give your child a sense of the narrow bed used during their MRI, and practice lying still. Turn it into a game to see who can still be the longest. Start about a week before the procedure and gradually increase the time they stay quiet and still on the couch.

Bring comfort items

Bring any items that comfort your child, whether a stuffed animal or a small toy — as long as it doesn't contain metal. Your child can hold the item during their MRI to help them stay relaxed and calm.

You can also play music or bring a tablet and show a movie (check with us first to be sure they can see it during the scan). Just be sure the music or video is calming and doesn't stimulate them. 

Don't forget their favorite blanket, which is comforting and may be needed because the room temperature is cool.

Let us know if your child is anxious or claustrophobic

Talk with us about your child's anxiety or claustrophobia. We can suggest calming your child and discuss whether we should use sedation during the scan.

If you have any questions or concerns, don't hesitate to call THINK Neurology for Kids at their office in The Woodlands, Katy, Sugar Land, or Lakeway, Texas.

You Might Also Enjoy...

Are Tremors Serious?

Tremors defy a simple explanation. They can be mild or severe, go away over time, persist for the long run, and have many possible causes. A thorough exam is the only way to learn if your child’s tremors are serious and ease your mind.
Which Type of Cerebral Palsy Does My Child Have?

Which Type of Cerebral Palsy Does My Child Have?

Children always deserve personalized care, but highly customized treatment is essential if they have cerebral palsy. Your child may have one of several types with varying symptoms. Here's what you need to know about the types of cerebral palsy.

Will My Child Outgrow ADHD?

Six million children in the United States have ADHD, and they all have parents who wonder if their child might one day outgrow the condition. ADHD can dramatically improve, but it’s seldom outgrown. Let’s explore what that means.