Sunday, November 6, 2011

Preparing a child for a MRI

Recently we noticed that our 5 year old son has a mass growing on his left elbow. After having an ultrasound on his elbow, it was determined that he would also need to have a MRI performed. I have never had an MRI nor have I ever seen one performed and therefore I had to rely on the hospital’s nurse and others to explain to me what the MRI experience would be like. So that I, his mother could prepare him for the MRI.

When I scheduled the MRI for my child I was told to arrive 30 minutes early. Luckily, due to motherly intuition, I dressed my child in comfortable clothing that had NO metal (i.e. zippers, buttons, belt buckle.) Since my child was dressed in clothes that contained no metal he did not have to change into a hospital gown. From past experience I know that my child does not like hospital gowns!

I was allowed to be in the room with him and was even allowed to help with the prep work!!!  The MRI technician placed a sticker type thing full of a yellow liquid on the mass. My child was then instructed to lie down on the table that would move him in and out of the MRI machine. His elbow was wrapped with what the technician said would take the pictures. All it looked like was soft foam stuff. But because my child’s arm is so small extra padding was also added. After his elbow was in place, a sandbag was placed in his hand and on his legs to keep them from moving.

Then my child was strapped into a blue plastic thing that looked like a deflated kiddie’s pool which the technician had me pump up manually with air. At this point my child started getting scared and said, “I don’t think I am going to do this!” I calmly spoke to him and stroked his head reassuring him that all would be well. I was praying that he would allow the MRI to be performed because we were told that if he did not stay still and allow the MRI to be performed, he would have to be sedated!  We were trying to avoid sedation at all costs!

I continued to pump up the plastic papoose as the technician shaped it around my son. Once the plastic papoose was shaped around him he was given some special cool glasses that allowed him to be able to see me and the technician while he looked up! He was given some headphones to protect his ears from the noises and these headphones also allowed him to listen to our favorite morning radio station!

My child was then ready for his MRI. I was given some headphones to protect my ears and previously had removed all metal that I had on. The technician them moved the MRI table into the MRI machine that looked like a HUGE donut!

The technician then entered an adjoining room that had a window facing the machine. My child was able to see the technician as well as hear him. My child was also able to see me as well as feel me holding his foot. The technician would tell us when imaging would begin and for how long the imaging would last. My child was in the MRI machine about 20 minutes and the imaging would last between 30 seconds to 2.5 minutes. There would be brief breaks between the images. I was able to talk to my son and he was able to see me give him a thumbs up after each image was completed!

After the imaging was completed the table was then moved out of the MRI machine. The “stuff” that my child had placed on and around his body was removed and we were allowed to leave!

My son who is a scientist in the making was thrilled with his MRI experience. He was delighted to be involved in a real scientific experiment! He came home and performed MRI’s on himself and his little brother! He did it!!! No sedation was necessary!!! Of course I was a very relieved Mommy!

Even though I talked to a nurse at the hospital about the MRI experience there are a few things that I didn’t know going into the MRI experience that I wish I had known.

I wish I had known:

·         That if he wore no metal he would not have to wear a hospital gown. Thanks to motherly intuition we got this one right!

·         That the MRI machine is shaped like a donut. That it’s open on both ends and not a tunnel only open on one end!

·         That I would be allowed to stand right up to the machine and even be allowed to hold his foot! Originally I was told I could be in the room and that I would be there when my child came in and out of the MRI machine. But holding his foot made the experience a million times better for my son!

·         That the imaging would only go on for periods of time and then stop. So it wasn’t like my child had to hear the loud banging noise for 20 minutes straight while holding perfectly still! It was also wonderful that the technician would tell us how long each image would take therefore I could watch the clock and talk, smile and gesture to my son to encourage him through each image.

·         The newer MRI machines go faster and are a little more “kid friendly”. Luckily, the one that was used for my sons MRI was a newer machine!

Best Wishes from Moms 4 Boys!

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