Magnetic resonance test
Magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, is one of the many tests your child may need to undergo to find out if he has cancer, what kind of cancer he has, and whether or not treatment is working.
How it works
MRI uses a combination of a magnetic field and radio waves to help doctors see inside your child’s body. The MRI machine is big and noisy, and the process can be scary for your child. He will have to lie down on a big table. The table then moves inside a large cylinder which houses a magnet. The magnet spins to take pictures that are cross sections of your child’s body. These “slices” can then be reassembled to give doctors a piece-by-piece image of what’s going on inside your child.
What to expect
There’s an intercom inside the MRI machine so that your child can talk to the technician and the technician can talk to him. Still, because the process can be pretty frightening, many children are given a mild sedative to calm them before they are subjected to the test.
Your child might be given headphones to listen to music. There will be a lot of noise as the magnet inside the machine spins around. He will have to remain very still so that the images are not blurred. After the MRI, he might have to remain in the room until the technician verifies that the MRI took good pictures. If the pictures aren’t good enough, your child may have to have the MRI done again.
An MRI doesn’t hurt, but, again, it can be very scary; especially for young children. If possible, be sure to explain to your child what to expect so that he knows what is going on at all times. MRI technicians are used to working with kids and will talk to your child in a way he can understand to help him through the procedure.
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Written by Rebecca Stigall for Kidspot, New Zealand’s parenting resource for family health. Sources include Better Health Channel, NSW Health, and Health Insite.
Last revised: Thursday, 29 April 2010
This article contains general information only and is not intended to replace advice from a qualified health professional.