Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) 

MRI is a safe, painless and highly effective test for the detection of disease and other abnormalities. By exposing the body to the combination of a magnetic field and radio waves, MRI scanners produce highly detailed images. These images provide physicians with an effective diagnostic tool to check for everything from the presence of disease to problems with bones and joints. Unlike X-rays and CT scans, there are no known biological hazards of MRI because the scan uses radio frequencies that occur naturally and do not damage tissue. We offer pediatric MRI appointments at several of our convenient locations.

MRIs can be performed with or without sedation. A non-sedated MRI simply means that no anesthesia or sedation is used during the MRI scan. Your child remains fully awake and alert from start to finish, and is ready to return to normal activities upon completion.

Even though most children tolerate sedation with no problems, sedation may result in side effects such as nausea, headache and restlessness. Children undergoing sedation also must have a physical examination beforehand to determine if they are able to tolerate it. Because each child responds differently to sedation, some may need to be monitored in the recovery room until they are fully awake and have met specific discharge measures.

Functional MRI

fMRI is an imaging test that produces detailed images of where specific brain functions are controlled. This helps our pediatric neurosurgeons find the safest route to remove a tumor or to pinpoint the spot they need to treat to manage seizures.

The test is performed in one of our MRI machines and works by using the machine’s magnetic field, along with special software and equipment, to measure lower oxygen levels in the brain. Children are awake during the test and are asked to do things like read words off of a computer screen, watch flashing colors or to move a certain body part. In the areas of the brain that control these functions, blood flow increases, using up more oxygen. Those areas then light up as clusters of color on the screen, which identifies where they are.

fMRI is generally not used on children under age six because patients have to follow simple directions and must be still. Because they participate in the test, sedation is not needed in most cases.

MR – I Am Ready! Program

"MR – I Am Ready!" is a program offered at Wolfson Children’s Hospital that’s designed to help children between the ages of 6 – 11 complete MRI scans without sedation.

The program uses a combination of desensitization and cognitive behavioral therapies such as deep breathing, audio distraction and positive reinforcement, along with practice simulations. It is play-based and guided by a specially trained child life specialist. Wolfson Children’s is one of few hospitals in the nation offering this free program.

Because "MR-I Am Ready!" allows patients to skip the lengthy preparation process required with sedation, the program helps speed scheduling and gets the results to your physician faster. "MR-I Am Ready!" provides an opportunity for parents who would like to avoid exposing their child to the risks of sedation.

Also, by choosing an MRI without sedation, parents help their child have a more positive experience during their scan, and may benefit from shorter wait times when scheduling. In addition, your child may experience little or no recovery time after the MRI is completed.

"MR – I Am Ready!" is a collaboration between the Child Life program, Pediatric Anesthesia and Imaging at Wolfson Children’s Hospital to provide another option in the diagnosis of illness and injury in young patients. The program is only offered at the main Wolfson Children’s Hospital location at this time.

If you would like more information about the program, please email

Click below to play a video about our MR-I Am Ready! Program!

8811 MR I am ready v4_MP4 1Mbps BH Sorenson.mp4

Coloring Books for the Children

You can also download a free coloring book about non-sedated MRIs below. The coloring books match the themes of our MRI machines:
Cozy Camp Adventure (Boys)
Cozy Camp Adventure (Girls)
Space Adventure (Boys)
Space Adventure (Girls)

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