Children’s MRI: Everything You Need to Know

Children’s MRI

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According to statistics, more than 30 million magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans are performed every year in the United States. The number is increasing even though MRI scans are much more expensive than X-rays.

MRI is a medical imaging technique used in radiology, a branch of medicine that utilizes imaging technology to diagnose and treat various diseases. Know more about MRI imaging from

You may ask, why do some people prefer MRIs to X-rays, especially for children? What are the benefits and risks of using MRI in children? What is the difference between MRIs for adults and children? What do you need to prepare before a scan, and what should you do afterward?

 This article will show the benefits, risks, and post-procedure care needed when your kid undergoes an MRI scan.

MRI in Children: Benefits and Risks

MRI stands for magnetic resonance imaging. It uses magnetic radio waves to create a digital image of the body’s internal organs.

MRI is a diagnostic tool used in radiology to determine changes within the body. This modern imaging technique has its list of benefits and risks, especially for children.

Here are the benefits of magnetic resonance imaging:

  • No harmful radiation – MRI uses magnetism and not X-rays, eliminating exposure to X-ray radiation. This imaging technique has become the preferred method for people needing repeated diagnostic imaging.
  • Better visibility – MRI scans have a better and clearer image of internal organs in your body. That’s why MRI is the preferred method for scanning body areas such as knees and shoulders, especially for brain diagnosis.
  • Fewer side effects – Compared to X-rays, MRI scans for multiple diagnostic imaging requests have the least risk of side effects. Also, MRI is non-invasive, as you are just placed in an MRI machine.
  • Best for detecting tumors – MRI scans are crucial for the early detection of tumors and certain types of cancers, especially brain cancers.

Here are the risks of using an MRI:

  • It is expensive – MRI scans use high-end digital imaging techniques, making them more expensive than X-ray scans. As of April 2022, the average price of an MRI scan ranges between $375 to $2,850.
  • Ineffective in certain types of cancer – Despite it being used to detect tumors and other types of cancers, there are also cancers that MRI cannot properly image for accurate diagnosis. Breast cancers and other types of benign tumors are some examples.
  • Reagent allergy – There are cases where a reagent is given to a person undergoing an MRI scan to get better image results. However, this reagent may result in allergic reactions for some.
  • Bad for people with claustrophobia – An MRI machine is an enclosed tube that a person is slid into, which may be claustrophobic for some individuals.

What Is the Difference Between an MRI Scan in Adults and Children?

MRI scans for children are somewhat similar to adults as they both use a powerful magnetic field coupled with radio waves and a high-tech computer to render detailed images for diagnostic purposes.

Typically an MRI scanning session will last from 20 minutes to an hour. It may pose problems for other children who have difficulty staying still or are quickly agitated.

However, there are options for sedation to ensure good scans are done. Still, it is always at the attending physician’s discretion to use sedatives on a child.

Preparing Your Child for an MRI Scan

After receiving your appointment letter for an MRI scan, you will be informed of the process your child will undergo. The process includes a metal check to ensure your child does not carry any metallic object during the scan.

Remember that your child will be subjected to high magnetic waves, dramatically affecting metallic things. So, your kid should not wear anything with metal objects such as clothes with metallic buttons and zippers.

Your child may be scheduled for a sedated MRI scan if prescribed in your appointment letter. 

The radiographer will then check if your child has any metal implants history of injuries that may leave small metal objects in your kid’s body. The doctor will also check for allergies.

There are cases when a reagent is given to children to get better MRI scans. These reagents may cause an allergic reaction in some people, requiring an allergy test for kids who undergo this diagnostic procedure.

Parents and guardians must also be checked for any metal objects before entering the MRI room to accompany their child. If everything is complete and okay, the MRI scan starts. It will take a few minutes per scan, and it may take up to one hour to complete the entire procedure.

Post-Procedure Care

After the MRI scan, you and your child can go straight home, especially if there are no other scheduled daily diagnostics. Typically, the results are completed the same day and will be sent to you through your email or in a preferred method of result delivery you selected.

If your child received a reagent or contrast chemical for the MRI, give your child a lot of water to drink. If sedated or given a general anesthetic for the MRI, follow your physician’s or nurse’s instructions, and everything will be alright.


  1. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
  2. MRI for Children