Preparing Your Child for a Medical Imaging Scan
admin 29-Apr-2016

Preparing Your Child for a Medical Imaging Scan.

A medical imaging scan, such as an MRI, PET scan or CT can make anyone a little nervous. But for children, a scan can be especially nerve-wracking. But there are several things you can do to make an imaging scan less scary and more comfortable for your child. 

Explaining the Procedure

Understanding what is going to happen during a scan can ease fears and decrease apprehension for your child. It’s important for parents to describe the procedure in an age appropriate way. For example, explain to a young child what the machine will look like and how it takes pictures. Let them know that the machine will move and the procedure won’t hurt. Older children may want a little more of an explanation. But regardless of your child’s age, it’s important to prepare your child, so they know what to expect.

Depending on the age of your child and where you are having a scan performed, you may want to utilize child life services. Many large medical centers, where scans may be performed, have child life specialists on staff.   

Child life specialists provide support to children and their families in a healthcare setting. A child life specialist can be helpful in explaining the procedure to your child, and may give your child a tour of the scanning room before the day of your test. Specialists may also have videos and books to help your child understand what is involved. 

Developing a Coping Plan During a Medical Imaging

Keep in mind, children takes cues from you. If you’re showing signs of being nervous or fearful about your child’s scan, he or she may pick up on that and become scared. The more relaxed you are, the better it is for your child. Talk to your child about not moving during the scan and help him develop a coping plan before the procedure. For instance, have your child practice how he will lie still during the scan. Talk to him about using techniques to remain still, such as counting and thinking about a favorite game or place he wants to visit.

Ways to Help Your Child Relax During the Scan

During your child’s medical imaging scan, there are several things that may help your child relax and get through the procedure. For example, consider bringing a comfort item from home, such as a blanket or stuffed animal.

Check to see if the scanning facility has movie players. Depending on the type of scan and the facility, your child may be able to watch a video during the procedure. Your child may also be allowed to listen to music through headphones the center can provide.

You might be able to go with your child into the scanning room. Facilities have different protocols in place, so check with the scanning facility in advance to determine if parents can be with their child during the test. You may be asked to sign a consent and wear a vest to protect yourself from radiation during the scan. Being with your child may be just what he needs to feel at ease.

In some situations, especially if your child is very young and cannot remain still, he may be given IV sedation before the procedure. The medication will help him relax during the scan. 

Radiation Safety and Children

It’s normal to have concerns about your child being exposed to radiation during a scan. Children are more sensitive to radiation than adults since their bodies are still maturing. 

Keep in mind, not all types of medical imaging scans involve radiation. If your pediatrician recommends a scan that uses radiation, consider asking if there are other scan options. But in some cases, the best diagnostic scan may be one that involves radiation. In most cases, the benefits of the scan outweigh the risks.

It’s also important to ask the radiology center performing the scan if radiation exposure parameters are adjusted based on a child’s size and weight. Most scanning facilities adjust radiation doses for children.


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NOTE: iRadiologyCare Inc. does not claim any accuracy, correctness or completeness of the above information. This information given above is for knowledge purposes only. It should not be construed as a medical advise. Please consult your doctor or medical care specialist for detailed and correct medical advise. iRadiologyCare Inc. will not be liable for any issues arising because of use of the above information.