Intro to Getting an MRI at St. Louis Children’s Hospital

This is what the MRI machine looks like. It’s kind of big, isn’t it? And here’s the kind of picture it takes so your doctor can see what’s going on inside of your body. When you first get here you will check in at the front desk and wait until your name is called. When it’s your turn, a staff person will take you and your family back to the room where the test will be done. Since the MRI machine runs on a big magnet, everyone will need to take off anything metal that they have like jewelry, badges or keys. Next, you, your parent, and any of our staff that will be helping your pictures, will all go into the room where the MRI machine is located. Our staff will help you get situated to lie down on the table that’s attached to the machine. All you have to do is relax and make yourself comfortable. We’ll let you know anything else that you may need to do to get ready for your pictures to be taken. If you’d like, headsets are available to listen to music. You may be asked to put on a helmet-like mask that will stay in place while your pictures are taken. And a seatbelt will be put around you for safety. During the test, your parents may stay in the room to keep you company. Once you’re situated, the table will move into the MRI machine, all you have to do is lie still and let the machine do all the work. This is what it will look like as you move into the machine. Hey Sophia are you doing okay? A staff person will talk to you through the headphones asking if you’re comfortable and letting you know how much time is left before you finish. You can answer any question using words, but you shouldn’t try to shake or move your head because movement will blur the pictures being taken. While the test is happening, you may hear some noises that are really loud. This is just the sound of the MRI machine taking pictures. During the test, you may need to have a fluid called contrast. If so, you will be taken out of the MRI machine and an IV will be started. Once the IV is started, you will go back into the MRI machine. If you already have an IV, we will just use that. Contrast is a fluid that helps the doctors see the test results better. The MRI may last for about 30 minutes to an hour and a half. That’s less time than it takes to watch your favorite movie. When the test is over and the pictures have all been taken, a staff person will move the table out of the MRI machine. She will take off your helmet, headphones, and seatbelt and help you down from the table. That’s it! You’re all done. Your parent will be with you as you leave the room and will be ready to take you home. If you have further questions or would like suggestion on how to prepare for an MRI test, please feel free to contact a Child Life specialist at

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