Many people have to get an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) to diagnose a disease or give a doctor a close look into an injury. However, the thought of going inside the machine, which is big and noisy, can stir fear among patients of any age. Kids, especially, might grow anxious over going through it since it is an experience that they have never had before.
There is nothing to be scared of. The machine is completely safe and the examination itself would not hurt.
Despite assurances, your child might still feel scared prior to the procedure. So, here are some things that you can do to ease their minds.
Consider an Open MRI
During an MRI, the patient will lie down on a bed and be inserted in a tube-shaped machine that will capture images of the organs and tissues within their body. There is not a lot of space inside the machine and the patient will be asked to lie still throughout the process.
For kids, they might feel more comfortable and less anxious in an open MRI. There are clinics that offer a private open MRI scan in which, instead of a tunnel-like encapsulation. There is more space inside an open MRI machine and a parent could even be present throughout the procedure.
An open MRI is perfect for those who have claustrophobia (fear of small spaces) and those who are prone to anxiety and panic attacks.
Bring Something That Would Entertain Them
The procedure may last for a couple of minutes which can feel like a lifetime to a nervous kid who has to stay still. To prevent them from becoming bored, you can let them listen to music or an audiobook while getting a scan. However, your device might not be allowed inside the clinic. Anything that contains metal is forbidden to be used during the process. Prior to your appointment, ask the technician what devices you can bring and use during the scan or if they provide a pair of headphones your child can use.
Letting your child do something they like would make the procedure less terrifying. It will block out the loud noises that the machine (which may make them more nervous) and make time fly fast.
Tell Your Child to Close Their Eyes
Seeing their surroundings may contribute to feelings of anxiety during an MRI. You can talk to your child and tell them to close their eyes as soon as they enter the machine. You can also bring face-covering like a towel or a sleep mask to use.
Explain the Procedure
When your pediatrician orders an MRI, discuss the procedure with them. Ask questions that your child may ask you regarding the procedure, including why they have to do it, what will happen during the scan, if it would hurt, how long it would take, etc.
If you can explain the procedure to your child, they may recognize it as non-threatening. It would no longer be unfamiliar.
Try to use simple words that they would understand. Let them ask you questions. If they want to, you can show them videos of the procedure on YouTube.
There is also an option to sedate your child. They would be asleep throughout the scan and would wake up after. They, therefore, would not experience the scan. Talk to the doctor about using anesthetic during the MRI.