Did You Know?
Wake Radiology is the clear choice for radiology services.
+ By nearly 3-to-1, Triangle residents prefer Wake Radiology over any other imaging group.*
+ 90% of patients would recommend Wake Radiology to a friend (far exceeding national averages).**
*Public Policy Polling. **The Ask Your Patient Survey, 2014.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) — WR Pediatric Imaging Procedure
This pediatric procedure is performed at Wake Radiology Raleigh MRI. For location information, click here.
What is an MR (or MRI) scan?
MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging, is a routine diagnostic procedure that employs strong electromagnets, radiofrequency waves, and powerful computers to generate two- and three-dimensional images of the body’s organs, tissues, and bones. MR imaging does not use ionizing radiation (X-rays) so there is no radiation exposure to your child.
MR uses a large, tube-shaped magnet that creates a strong magnetic field around the patient. A radio-frequency coil is placed over the body part that is to be imaged. The magnetic field, along with applied radio-frequency waves, alters the alignment of hydrogen protons found in water molecules within the body. Computers reconstruct the images based on the radio-frequency signals emitted by the protons.
When might MRI be needed?
Your physician may request an MRI study for a number of reasons. MRI is often used to obtain specific diagnostic information not already provided by other imaging technologies such as ultrasound, computed tomography (CT), and nuclear medicine.
MR may be needed to rule out disease and to facilitate medical, surgical, and other treatments for conditions of the brain, spinal column, and spinal cord; eye, ear, nose, and throat; bones, joints and muscles; heart and blood vessels; chest; abdominal organs and digestive tract; and kidneys, urinary tract, and pelvic organs. These conditions may include congenital and developmental disorders, genetic and metabolic diseases, infections and inflammatory conditions, traumatic and other types of injury, and vascular and blood diseases.
How should I prepare my child for the procedure?
We perform MRIs on children from age 10 and up at Wake Radiology Raleigh MRI Center. Your child may eat or drink as usual. If sedation is required, we will schedule your child’s MRI at WakeMed Children’s Hospital (www.wakemed.org) In these situations, specific dietary restrictions and other instructions are provided by your physician in advance of the appointment.
If you have any questions about preparation or our safety checklist, please contact us at (919) 232-4700.
What will happen before the MRI scan?
Your appointment and registration will be confirmed by the MRI scheduling coordinator the night before the scan. When you arrive, you will be asked to fill out the MRI screening questionnaire on behalf of yourself and your child. All individuals who will be entering the MR room must fill out this form. We do this to screen individuals for items on or within the body such as cardiac pacemakers, metal implants, and ferromagnetic objects. Some of these items may malfunction or move within the magnetic field and are considered a strong relative contraindication to having an MRI exam.
After you complete the screening questionnaire, the MRI technologist will ask a few questions and answer any questions you or your child have about what to expect.
You or your child and all individuals entering the MR room must remove all metal objects (jewelry, for example) and electronic devices (watches, etc.) and change into scrub attire or wear clothing from home that is comfortable and free of metal (zippers, buttons, etc.). Wake Radiology allows a parent or guardian to accompany a child during the scan for moral support.
What happens during the MR scan?
The MRI technologist will position your child comfortably on a narrow bed within the large, short-bore magnet and adjusts the radiofrequency coil, which will be placed over, under or around the body part to be examined. The technologist then performs the MRI examination with the radiologist and is in contact with the patient at all times. During the MR procedure, you or your child will hear repetitive knocking noises. It is particularly important to remain still when this happens, as the MR machine is obtaining images at those times. If the pictures are motion-free, this will help shorten the total exam time and prevent delays.
An entire MRI examination may take from 20 to 40 minutes depending on the type of information required by the pediatric radiologist and your physician.
Will my child feel anything?
If an injection is required, your child may feel minor discomfort from the needle. MRI itself is a painless procedure, in that the patient is not touched. The magnet does emit rather loud pulsing sounds, but these can be dampened by wearing earplugs or ear phones provided by the MRI staff. We provide headphones and XM radio with music to comfort your child. Occasionally, claustrophobia is a problem. If you are concerned about this possibility, your exam may need to be rescheduled at WakeMed Health & Hospital, as Wake Radiology does not offer sedation for children. Please contact the MRI staff before your appointment for information and assistance at 919-232-4700.
Are there safety concerns with MRI?
MRI, like other imaging technologies in radiology, is FDA approved for its safety and effectiveness. It has been used to image patients since 1981, and no adverse biological effects have been reported from exposure to the magnetic fields or radio waves. It is considered safe, provided all safety protocols are followed. That is why the screening form mentioned above — meant to detect items on or within the body such as cardiac pacemakers, metal implants, and ferromagnetic objects — is so important. These objects may move during the procedure unless firmly anchored in the tissues. The magnetic fields tend to cause malfunction of programmable devices. Some devices, such as Baclofen pumps and Medos valves, can be safely imaged, but may need to be switched off during the procedure or reprogrammed afterwards.
Some metallic devices are safely imaged but produce an “artifact” that may obscure the region of interest (orthodontic braces in patients undergoing pituitary imaging, for example). Finally, surface or implanted objects with coiled wires can result in electrical burns due to heating and/or induction of currents as a result of radiofrequency effects.
What happens after the images are obtained?
After the images are obtained, you are free to go and resume your normal activity.