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My child is having an MRI under a general anaesthetic

What does MRI stand for?

MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging.

What is an MRI?

An MRI is a scan which provides very clear, detailed pictures of the brain or other parts of the body, to investigate a health problem. It does not use x-rays to make the images so there is no dose of radiation involved with the scan. Instead, the scanner uses a strong magnet to create the images we need.

What happens during a MRI?

Your child is transferred from the trolley where they went to sleep, onto the scanner couch, which is then moved into position so your child lies partially in the scanner whilst the scans are carried out. The scanner makes some loud noises when it takes the pictures, but your child will be asleep and will not notice this.

Is it safe?

There are no known side effects associated with having an MRI.

It uses a very strong magnet to take the pictures and this is why we ask you to fill in a questionnaire about your child to make sure that they have no metal implants in their body which could be affected by the magnet. This is also why your child should wear loose clothes without any metal fastenings such as zips or poppers.

Does it hurt?

The scanning is not painful but the scanner is very noisy during the scanning process.

Are there any alternatives?

A CT scan (a type of X-ray) may be used, but the pictures from this may not be as good as from an MRI. A CT scan also involves radiation.

Why does my child need to have an anaesthetic?

We need your child to lie very still whilst the scan is completed to get the best quality images possible. The scanner is very sensitive to movement, so images will be blurry and unusable if your child moves during the scan. Young children or those with disabilities may not be able to lie still, and so an anaesthetic is used for those children who need help with this.

How long will it take?

This can vary a lot and depends on which part of the body is to be scanned. Generally the scan will take between 30 to 50 minutes.

For more detailed images, it may take longer.

When the scan is completed your child will be taken to the recovery area to rest and recover from any anaesthetic. Your child will be allowed to rest and sleep until ready to return to the ward. The children are usually away from the ward for approximately 1 hour to 1 hour 30 minutes, but this varies with each child.

Where is the MRI scanner?

We have 2 MRI scanners in our radiology department. The department is located by the Purple Lifts on B floor, Sheffield Children’s Hospital, Western Bank, Sheffield. On the day you will be taken to the department by a member of staff from the theatre admissions unit (TAU) when it is time for your child’s scan.

Will I be able to stay with my child?

You will be able to accompany your child to the X-ray department, but only one member of the family will be allowed into the anaesthetic area. It is not possible for you to stay with your child during the scanning procedure.

When can my child have something to eat and drink?

When your child returns to the ward, if they wish, they can have a drink. Sometimes the children are still sleepy, and so they will be given a drink and something to eat whenever they are fully awake.

When will we be able to go home?

When your child has had something to eat and drink. Approximately 1 to 2 hours from returning to the ward, as each child is different. Some children like to sleep, others wake and are ready to go home earlier. Your child will be assessed by a nurse before being discharged.

When will I get the results of the MRI?

The results of the scan will be sent to the consultant who referred your child for the scan. These usually take 2 weeks to arrive. You will have an opportunity to discuss the results with the referring consultant and their team.

When can my child go back to school?

Your child can usually go back to school the next day.

Contact us

Please contact the radiology department on 0114 2717238 if you have any other questions, or speak to a member of staff on the day.

Further information

Please read our resource for more information about risks of anaesthetics.

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Please note: this is a generic information sheet relating to care at Sheffield Children’s NHS FT. These details may not reflect treatment at other hospitals. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professionals’ instructions. If this resource relates to medicines, please read it alongside the medicine manufacturer’s patient information leaflet. If this information has been translated into another language from English, efforts have been made to maintain accuracy, but there may still be some translation errors. If you are unsure about any of the guidance in this resource or have specific questions about how it relates to your child, always ask your healthcare professional for further advice.

Resource number: RAD1

Resource Type: Article

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Western Bank
S10 2TH

United Kingdom

Switchboard: 0114 271 7000

Interesting Facts

We’ve got a special MRI scanner just for teddies so children can see what it’s like before they have a scan.

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