What is a MRI scan?

MRI stands for magnetic resonance imaging. A cardiac MRI provides detailed images of your child’s heart and blood vessels and also information about heart function.

A MRI of the heart has the advantage that it does not require radiation but it does require your child to lie still for between 30-60 minutes. This means that for children below 6 years of age a general anaesthetic is usually required. Older children usually are able to undergo the procedure. The video links below are often helpful for families.

Why is a MRI test done?

An MRI scan is recommended for some children in addition to having an echo. Both tests are complimentary.

What happens during the test?

Your child lies on an electronic bed which moves in and out of an open ended magnetic tunnel. It is a very noisy test and your child will be given headphones. Some children describe the banging/knocking sound like “thunder”. They have a buzzer which they can press of they want to talk to the radiographer who will be behind a glass window.

Most scans will require contrast dye (gadolinium) to be given meaning your child will need an IV cannula to be performed prior to the scan. A parent or guardian can remain in the scanning room with the child if they are in good health with no metal and are not pregnant.

How long does it take?

It usually takes up to 1 hour.

The results of your child’s scan will not be available instantly. A congenital cardiac MRI consultant will report the images and will share the results with Dr Naqvi who will make a management plan for your child.

Does it hurt?

No. The MRI test is painless but your child may require an IV cannula prior to the MRI test. This is required for anaesthetized and awake patients. Some children and adults feel claustrophobic (frightened in the small space). The video links below are often helpful. The MRI team who work with Dr Naqvi are very expert at dealing with children having these tests and the vast majority of older children successfully undergo the scan, impressing their parents.

How can I prepare my child for the test?

  • It is important for the radiographers to know if your child has a pacemaker or any metal inside them e.g.cardiacstents, PDA devices or cerebral clips.
  • If your child is having the MRI without an anaesthetic, they can eat or drink normally before the scan. If they are being sedated or having an anaesthetic the doctors and nurses will give advice about the duration of fasting before the test.
  • All metal objects such as jewellery including earrings, toys, metallic hairbands, watches and hearing aids must be removed.
  • All electronic devices and credit/debit cards must be kept in one of the lockers outside the scanning room. The magnets in the scanner can damage these.
DR NAQVI’S TOP TIPS for having a MRI scan
  • Bring your favourite music.
  • Ensure you have no metal on you (no coins or key chains or hair clips or hairbands).
  • Wear clothes without zips or metal fasteners e.g.track suit or leggings with a T shirt.
  • You will be asked to hold your breath during part of test. You can practice this before the test.
Cartoon video
Real life video
Demo to prepare a Child