Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan is a diagnostic test that produces three-dimensional images of the organs and tissues in the body.

What is an MRI?

An MRI uses radio waves, a magnet, and a computer to scan your child’s body and produce detailed images of the structures within your child’s body. An MRI is a noninvasive test and does not use X-rays or radiation.

Dell Children’s Medical Center is outfitted with the latest cutting-edge equipment, including a 3T-MRI machine, which yields far more detailed photos of the structures within the brain. This allows your child’s doctor to detect abnormalities that may otherwise remain undetected.

Why is MRI performed?

MRIs can be performed on different areas of the body and may be helpful in diagnosing a variety of conditions or determining how the body is responding to certain treatments. MRIs are also useful for examining the brain and spinal cord as well as identifying abnormal regions or lesions in the brain that may be causing seizures or epilepsy.

What can I expect during an MRI?

An MRI usually lasts 45 to 90 minutes. The MRI machine is located in a large room and looks like a tunnel. Your child will lie down on a table that slides into the tunneled portion, or scanner, of the MRI machine. The MRI machine makes banging and clicking noises during most of the exam. Your child will receive special earplugs that soften the noise while also allowing them to watch a movie or listen to music.

To obtain clear images, your child needs to remain very still in the MRI scanner during the test. Due to the length of the test, young children, or those who cannot lie still, who are afraid of the MRI machine, or who experience anxiety inside the scanner (claustrophobia), may need to be sedated or given general anesthesia for the duration of the test. This will be determined by your child’s doctor. During the test, the MRI technologist will watch your child through a glass panel and will be able to communicate with your child through a speaker.

How can I best prepare for an MRI?

It is very important that you inform your child’s doctor of any metal objects in your child’s body. These objects may interfere with the MRI testing process. Metal objects include vagal nerve stimulators (VNS), baclofen pumps, pins, and pacemakers. If your child has a VNS, the device will be deactivated before the MRI and reactivated after the MRI is completed at the hospital.

Care Team Approach

UT Health Austin Pediatric Neurosciences at Dell Children’s, a clinical partnership between Dell Children’s Medical Center and UT Health Austin, takes a multidisciplinary approach to your child’s care. This means your child and your family will benefit from the expertise of multiple specialists across a variety of disciplines. Your child’s care team will include epileptologists, pediatric neurologists, pediatric neuropsychologists, pediatric neurosurgeons, pediatric physical medicine and rehabilitation specialists, hospitalists, anesthesiologists, nurses, advanced practice providers, social workers, psychologists, child life specialists, dietitians, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, neurodiagnostic technicians, pharmacists, and more, who work together to provide unparalleled care for patients every step of the way. We collaborate with our colleagues at the Dell Medical School and The University of Texas at Austin to utilize the latest research, diagnostic, and treatment techniques, allowing us to identify new therapies to improve treatment outcomes. We are committed to communicating and coordinating your child’s care with their other healthcare providers to ensure that we are providing comprehensive, whole-person care.

Learn More About Your Care Team

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UT Health Austin Pediatric Neurosciences at Dell Children's

4910 Mueller Blvd., Suite 300
Austin, TX 78723
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