MRI Brain Imaging for Children

If your child has experienced an event such as a seizure, your doctor may have ordered an MRI scan to aid in reaching an accurate diagnosis. We understand that it can be extremely stressful for parents to even think about their child undergoing medical tests. Here, we will discuss MRI brain imaging, why it may be necessary, and what to expect.

Why Magnetic Resonance Imaging

MRI scans are different than standard x-rays, and even from CT scans, both of which work with low emissions of radiation. Unlike these methods of imaging, the MRI obtains images via magnetic field and radio waves. There is no radiation, which means no health risks.

An MRI may be ordered to explore the potential cause of symptoms or events such as seizures, blurred vision, dizziness and headaches, or weakness. The magnetic waves and radio waves allow the radiologist and physician to obtain vital information related to blood vessels, anatomical structure (and abnormalities of them), and conditions such as swelling, bleeding, tumors, cysts, inflammation, or injection in the brain. If a child has a shunt, an MRI can be performed to make sure it is working properly.

Magnetic resonance imaging provides useful clinical data that may not be obtained with other forms of imaging, which is why it is so valuable in the diagnosis of conditions affecting the brain and pituitary gland.

What to Expect

Brain scans in our pediatric MRI machine are typically completed in less than an hour. Sometimes, testing can be over and done in thirty minutes. The key element to obtaining accurate images is stillness. For this reason, children are most often sedated for their imaging process. Speaking with your doctor about sedation medication, you can gain peace of mind knowing that your child will rest comfortably during MRI imaging.

During MRI scanning, your child will lie on a table. A blanket may be provided to assure physical comfort during the short scan.  Images of the brain are captured as the table slides part-way into the MRI machine. Because the head goes in first, it is typically the only body part to be under magnetic and radio waves. Once scanning is complete, sedation will be discontinued. The effects of this relaxing medication will wear off over the next few hours.

Pediatric radiology services at UTMB are performed under the direction of esteemed physician Dr. Swischuk, who has more than 20 years in this practice.

We are happy to answer your questions about pediatric imaging.

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