Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. This post and all my blog posts are my experiences and opinions only.
The first step in our journey to diagnosis with our son was to do a brain MRI scan. Luckily, doing a MRI on our 1-year old wasn’t completely out of left field as our Pediatrician warned us this would probably be what the Neurologist would recommend.
The Neurologist referred us to our local Children’s Hospital and that is how our baby MRI scan journey began.
Seth had this first MRI (brain) scan when he was about 14 months old. When that yield no results, he proceeded to have 2 more MRI (spine and pelvis) scans over the following months. All of our experiences were pretty similar so I am going to summarize them together.
- Scheduling: In our experience, they schedule baby MRI scans first thing in the morning . This is nice since they cannot eat or drink anything beforehand. **TIP: Avoid Saturdays. Yes, it sounds nice because you don’t have to miss work or daycare, but hospitals are SLOW on Saturdays.**
- Paperwork: Ask your Neurologist to send you the MRI order so you have a copy. Also, have a copy of ANYTHING else the Neurologist is asking the hospital to do. For example: Seth was supposed to have blood drawn during one of his baby MRI scan while he was under anesthesia. Somehow the order got lost between the Neurologist’s office and the hospital. This was despite the fact I called the hospital and asked if they had the correct order; they said they did. Always have everything in hand (or on your phone) as a backup.
- Call from Hospital: They day before someone from the hospital should call you with further instructions and answer any of your questions. They will tell you your child cannot have anything to eat or drink after a certain time. **TIP: Ask what is the latest your child can have clear liquids. I found out during Seth’s 2nd baby MRI scan he could have clear liquids up until the hospital parking garage. This significantly helped when they have to put in an IV later.**
Arrival, Day Of
When you arrive, you will do all the typical check-in, paperwork, etc and then be directed to the Radiology Department.
Once you are in the Radiology Department you will be called back and put into a room. From there, your child will change into a gown, get an IV and see the Nurse, Radiologist and Anesthesiologist all explaining different parts of the procedure to you and asking if you have questions. **TIP, IV: If the nurse is having trouble finding a vein, ask for the “IV Team”. They are IV specialists and will get an IV in your child in seconds. Do not let them poke your child more than a few times. You are their voice, ask for the IV Team.**
- Paperwork: Bring copies of any orders you have, see above.
- Food & Drink: No food and drink after the time they hospital told you. Remember, ask about clear liquids.
- Your Dress: Dress comfortably. Avoid wearing any metal since you will go into the MRI room with your child at the beginning.
- Child Dress: Dress comfortably. They will change into a gown, but still who doesn’t like being comfortable.
- Sippy Cup & Snack: After the baby MRI scan your child will have to drink and eat something before they can leave. The hospital will provide this, but I started bringing my own since I knew what my son liked.
- For You: Bring your earbuds, iPad, book or whatever you want you to pass the time while you are waiting.
You will carry your child back to the MRI Room. They will scan you for any metal (dress comfy, no metal) and then walk into the room.
Once in the MRI room, they will give your child the anesthesia. **HEADS UP: Your child will go from normal to limp in your arms in seconds. Hold their neck and head. It is a weird feeling for you. This is normal, but still jarring as a parent. Carissa actually told me about this experience from Evie’s Ear Tubes, but the Anesthesiologist also told me too.**
Waiting: You now go back to the room and wait. The longest I waited was an hour (spine baby MRI scan) the shortest was 30 minutes (brain baby MRI scan). The nurse will tell you it is OK to leave the room, but leave your number on the white board. I typically put in my earbuds and waited in the room.
They will bring your child back to you on a hospital bed. They will typically still be asleep. It can take anywhere from 15-30 minutes from them to wake up. The longest it ever took Seth was around 30 minutes. He hadn’t slept well the night before and was taking advantage of the opportunity. 🙂
Once they wake up, they might be a bad mood, cry, etc. This is also normal and will pass.
Your child will have to eat and drink something before you can leave. Every time Seth was happy to do so.
We typically said good bye to the doctor and were on our way.
You are advise your child maybe groggy from the anesthesia. Seth was typically a little groggy, but nothing that lasted very long. He was usually pretty silly in the car find home, having lively conversations with himself.
We usually kept him out of daycare until after his nap. That way he could shake off any grogginess at home, have lunch, get a great nap and head back to school.
The test results were typically posted in our Children’s Hospital ‘MyChart’ within 48-72 hours depending on the day we had the MRI scan.
Our Neurologist called us and tell us the results over the phone rather than making us come into the office.
Seth’s 3 baby MRI scans did not yield any major findings in regards to the spasticity in his legs, but they did reveal a mass in his pelvis. While the mass was benign, it did have to be surgically removed. So when someone asks me if the MRI scans were worth it, I say Yes! They helped us identify something we were not even looking for.
I trust that everything happens for a reason, even if we are not wise enough to see it.Oprah Winfrey