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Can children have an MRI scan?

Child MRI

Can children have an MRI scan?

Posted on Thu Feb 14, 2019

A question we are often asked at Oryon Imaging is: ‘Do you scan children?’ The answer is yes!

Children and babies do sometimes require diagnostic imaging, and parents often have concerns.

Our highly experienced Clinical team have excellent knowledge and training in paediatric examinations. In 2018 we successfully scanned 417 patients under the age of 18.

However, the best way to make sure you and your child have the best possible experience is to fully prepare them for what to expect yourself.

Here to talk you through children’s MRI scans is Carmel Ndontoni, our very own Senior Radiographer.

Why do children sometimes need a scan?

Your practitioner will have referred your child for medical imaging to help them make a diagnosis for your child so that they are best able to plan their treatment.

We need to be sent the referral before we can go ahead with any scan, which gives us the chance to plan ahead to provide the best care and images.

What paediatric scans are available?

At Oryon Imaging we accept referrals for babies and infants for X-ray and ultrasound scans.

We don’t perform MRI scans on babies and infants, as the they usually need some form of sedation to keep completely still in the scanner, and therefore benefit from supervision in a specialist paediatric unit.

We can generally accept MRI referrals for children from 6 years of age as they are usually able to keep completely still for the length of the scan, which lasts a minimum of 15 minutes depending on the body region being scanned.

How to prepare your child for a scan

There is normally no special medical preparation for MRI scans at Oryon Imaging, but if there is we’ll always let you know.

We recommend that your child wear clothes that are loose and comfortable, without any zips or metal poppers, so they might not have to change into a gown. MRI scanners use strong magnetic fields to produce the images, so it’s important that anyone going near the scanner does not have any metal in their pockets, or metallic medical implants.

The MRI room can feel a little cold as the scanner needs to be kept cool; we have plenty of warm blankets, or your child can wear thicker clothes.

They can also bring their special comfort toy with them on the day to come into the scanner with them (N.B. as long as there are no metal components).

Depending on the age of your child, it’s best to prepare them by explaining what is going to happen during the appointment. Here are some useful things to know in advance to help you and your child prepare.

Arriving and checking in

When you arrive at the centre you’ll be checked in by a member of the team at our reception.

If you would like to accompany your child into the MRI room whilst they are being scanned you’ll also need to fill out an MRI safety questionnaire and pass the safety checks here, or you can call us to complete them before the appointment.

One of our radiographers will introduce themselves and firstly double check that all safety criteria is met by both yourself and your child. They will then take you through to the MRI area.

If your child needs to change into a gown, and/or lock any valuables away, you’ll be shown to a private changing room. You will both need to leave metallic objects like jewellery, watches, keys, pens, cards with metallic strips like bank cards or paper tickets with magnetic barcodes in a locked cubicle.

In the MRI room

The radiographer will explain to your child, in age appropriate language, what they’ll need to do during the MRI scan and what the scan involves.

Your child will lie on the bed (table), and once in the correct position the radiographers will move the bed inside the scanner and the go to the control room to begin the scan.

If the area being scanned is in the upper part of the body, the child will go into the scanner with the head first and if the part of the body being scanned is in the lower part of the body, they will go into the scanner with their feet first. This is because the body part being scanned needs to be in the middle of the scanner.

The MRI scanner makes a loud knocking sound whilst scanning. Your child will be provided with ear protectors to protect their ears. We may also be able to offer them music to listen to throughout the scan, depending on the scan they are having.

You’ll be able to ask the radiographer any questions they may have before the scan begins. They are also able to speak to your child through an intercom to let your child know when the loud noise will begin and make sure they are ok.

Your child will be given a hand-held call bell which can be squeezed if they have any problems. It takes a matter of seconds to withdraw them from the scanner if necessary.

If you are accompanying your child into the MRI room you’ll be able to sit beside the scanner with ear protectors on and, depending on the part of the body being scanned, you can comfort them by placing your hand on their leg or shoulder so they are aware you are close by.

Scan times vary depending on what region is being scanned. A standard scan can be as quick as 15 minutes, and more complex scans can take longer. We’ll let you know how long the scan will take when the appointment is confirmed.

After the scan

Oryon Imaging Children's Certificate

The radiographers or reception team will give your child a sticker and certificate for completing the scan, which will give them a well-earned sense of achievement and help them to recall their MRI scan as a positive experience. We may even give you one if you’re lucky!

Oryon Imaging Children's Sticker

You’ll be given the MRI images on a CD straight after the scan. You can also find them on your account on our secure online community, Connect, where they will also be available for your referring clinician to view.

A radiologist, who is a specialised doctor, produces a report based on the scan images and the clinical details in the referral. We aim to send reports to your referrer within one working day.

Our aim is that you and your child’s experience of having an MRI scan is a positive, stress-free one. Please feel free to contact us if you have any further questions.


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