Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a technique that uses a magnetic field and radio waves to create cross-sectional images of your child’s head and body. These detailed images are used to diagnose a wide range of conditions. At the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital Pediatric Radiology Department, the extensive MRI experience of our board-certified, fellowship-trained experts in pediatric radiology and pediatric neuroradiology helps to ensure that MRI is properly utilized, planned and protocolled for greatest efficiency in diagnosis and the resulting images are properly interpreted for your child’s physician.
While an X-ray is very good at showing bones, an MRI lets the radiologist see structures made of soft tissue, such as ligaments and cartilage and organs such as your child’s eyes, brain and heart.
MRI can be used to view:
- Abdomen and pelvis including organs and the gastrointestinal track
- Arteries and veins
- Bones and joints
- Head, neck and spine
At the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, we have three dedicated pediatric MRI units, one of which is an open MRI. The open MRI is open on the sides of the machine, and is good for children who might be scared of the noise and closed-in feeling that may come with a traditional MRI. Depending on the reason for the MRI study, the open design also potentially allows for a parent to hold a child’s hand during the imaging, which can help relieve anxiety.
In addition, our two other MRIs at Mott have openings larger than most standard MRIs, which can make children more comfortable during their study. Each of our MRI units has different capabilities. The MRI unit that is used for your child will depend on the reason for study and other factors.
An MRI exam is painless. Your child won’t feel the magnetic field or radio waves. MRI machines consist of a large magnet shaped like a tunnel. Your child lies on a table that slides into the tunnel. A computer creates a composite, three-dimensional representation of your child’s body. Two-dimensional images are then created and displayed on a monitor for viewing and analysis.
MRI examinations typically take more time than other radiology examinations. Average study length is about one hour. Providing proper imaging for a young child can be thus challenging. We work closely with the Pediatric Anesthesia Department staff, who provide sedation or general anesthesia to help young children stay still for the duration of the MRI study. Older children and teens are usually able to hold still for the imaging. Some children are afraid to be separated from their parents during the test while others are nervous and fidget when they need to be still. Our experienced and compassionate staff understands how to work with children and put them at ease.