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Magnetic Resonance Imaging

Why choose Rady Children’s MRI?

At Rady Children’s, our No. 1 priority is to provide you and your loved ones with the highest level of care imaginable. Our state-of-the-art facility provides patients and families with both a welcoming environment and the leading image quality in the industry. Our magnetic resonance imaging technologists are highly trained and certified specialists who deal exclusively with pediatric and disabled patients. Every one of our team members is an expert at providing patients with extraordinary care, unique to their individual needs. Our MRI radiologists are board-certified pediatric specialists who have undergone extensive education and training and provide the gold standard of care in our MRI interpretation services.

Our MRI suite is also the only site in San Diego to feature Cinema Vision, which enables kids to watch a movie or listen to music during their MRI exam. Children who can hold still during the scan will be offered video goggles and headphones upon request.

Rady Children’s Dickinson Image-Guided Intervention Center is the nation’s first MRI-guided intervention center for children.

What is MRI?

MRI is a way of obtaining images of our muscles, ligaments, bones and other internal organs. Unlike many other ways of producing medical images, MRI does not use potentially harmful ionizing radiation. Instead, it uses an extremely powerful magnet, 15,000 times more powerful than the earth’s magnetic field. Once a patient is introduced to the magnetic field, radiofrequency is used which generates and receives a signal from the patient’s body. This signal is then interpreted by a computer attached to the machine.

What should I and/or my child expect?

Upon entering our MRI reception area, you will be greeted with a smile and provided with an MRI Metal Screening Questionnaire. While these questions seem very similar to the questions asked at the time of making your appointment, this list is much more thorough and helps to keep all our little ones safe throughout the MRI process. Due to the strength of the magnetic field, our team must ensure that no metal objects or unsafe implanted device make their way into our exam room.

At the time of your appointment, you will be taken back to a changing room. The patient undergoing the procedure will be asked to remove all outside clothing and metal to change into a hospital gown. We understand that many patients will feel more comfortable in the clothing brought from home but unfortunately, many of today’s fabrics contain copper as an antimicrobial additive and can potentially heat up to the point of causing burns.

Patients who will require anesthesia will be both questioned and consented by an anesthesiologist to ensure a safe experience.
mri photo
Once inside the MRI suite patients will be provided with both earplugs, to protect their hearing from the loud knocking of the machine, and an emergency squeeze ball. This ball can be used to alert the technologist at any time throughout the exam in the event the patient becomes too uncomfortable. MRI is a completely painless procedure and any discomfort including emotional should be reported to the technologist on site.

The patient will have to remain extremely still throughout imaging the process, as any amount of motion will create blurriness in the images that makes it more difficult for our doctors to get a clear diagnosis. Many of our wiggliest patients may have to undergo sedation or anesthesia to get images that can be adequately interpreted by our doctors.

What can we do to prepare?

Before the MRI, be sure to notify scheduling of any implanted devices that the patient may have. This allows our MR safety team adequate time to screen these devices to determine they are safe for MRI. If your or your family member’s exam is with anesthesia be sure to not eat at least four hours prior to your check-in time.

On the day of the MRI, be sure not to wear jewelry, piercings or makeup. Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing that will allow you to change easily and comfortably. If you have an implanted device please be sure to bring your implanted device’s information card for our records.

How long will it take to get results?

Most results come back within two-three business days after your exam. These results will be sent over to the physician who ordered your MRI. Results are also uploaded to your MyChart once they are finalized by our team of radiologists. If you do not have an appointment or have not heard back from the ordering doctor in four days, we recommend getting into contact with them to review your results.

Who can’t have an MRI?

At Rady Children’s, our goal is to provide each and every patient with the safest most diagnostic images possible. Unfortunately for patients with certain implanted devices, this can occasionally mean that MRI is not the best modality of choice.

The list of allowed and unsafe implanted devices is expanding every day and the best method to know if you or your family member is a good candidate for MRI is to contact our scheduling team with all implant information present at the time you schedule your exam.

Implants previously deemed unsafe such as cardiac pacemakers, both MRI conditional and non-conditional can frequently be scanned safely with our cutting-edge team of electrophysiologists, cardiologists and specialized technologists.

What is gadolinium (contrast)?

Gadolinium-based contrast agents are often ordered to help our physicians get a clear understanding of certain processes in the body that would be difficult to identify otherwise. These contrast agents go into the patient’s bloodstream through an IV and help to highlight and characterize areas of the body that have a blood supply. These can be areas of infection, masses or other areas that require special attention by our radiologists.

Gadolinium is a rare earth metal that can be found on the periodic table (atomic number 64). This metal is chelated or “caged” within an organic molecule to make it safe for injection.

We understand that there are many questions regarding any medication that will be implemented in the care of ourselves or our family. For more information, we advise speaking to your ordering provider.