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Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

Radiologist monitoring MRI brain scan

The MRI scanner is a powerful magnet with a tunnel running through the middle, allowing a table to slide through. The magnet rotates around the patient and combines with radio waves and a computer to take pictures inside the body.

An MRI is a noninvasive procedure that allows the medical team to see what's going on inside your child's body without the use of X-rays. The images provided can help determine what, if any, treatment is required. And, if surgery should be required to treat your child's specific condition, an MRI can help to more accurately pinpoint the area of surgery. MRI scans show detailed pictures of the brain, spinal cord, muscles, tendons, bone marrow and blood vessels, tissue and more.

What to expect

The MRI machine is designed like a tunnel and, like a tunnel, is open at both ends. Your child will lie down on a table that slides into the tunnel. During the scan the tunnel remains still while the magnets inside the machine spin around to capture images. The MRI makes a very loud sound due to the power of the magnets inside. Ear plugs or headphones for music will be provided to reduce the noise.

For some children, being in a tight space like an MRI can be overwhelming and claustrophobic. We can help ease these anxieties for patients by using video goggles.

Child putting on video goggles
Child ready go into MRI tunnel
Child watching video during MRI

Watching a video during an MRI helps our patients at ease.

When using the video goggles, patients can select a movie to watch during their MRI scan. This system is a successful distraction technique for patients who otherwise would not be able to complete the exam without sedation.


MRI safety is a top priority at Cook Children's. MRI does not use radiation. However, because the MRI uses a very powerful magnet, everyone entering the MRI scan suite must follow important guidelines and fill out an MRI safety questionnaire.

Sedation (anesthesia)

The scanner is very sensitive to movement, so it's important to remain still during the MRI. Sedation may be required for young children who are unable to remain still.

If your child is scheduled for anesthesia, a radiology nurse and a nurse practitioner from the department of anesthesiology will call you. These nurses will ask you questions about your child's medical information, give you special preparation instructions and answer any questions you might have. On the day of your child's procedure you'll meet with your anesthesiologist to talk about the anesthesia plan.

What is an iMRI?

The MRI scanner used for iMRI procedures is similar to the MRI scanners used in the Radiology department.

Intraoperative magnetic resonance imaging (iMRI) is a procedure that allows neurosurgeons to see images during surgery with the use of MRI. Our iMRI suite is comprised of a surgical suite and an MRI scanner.

Before the introduction of our intraoperative MRI, patients who required neurosurgical interventions were required to undergo a follow-up scan within 24 hours post-surgery. Based on those findings, patients would often require a second surgery. Today, the iMRI allows our team to scan the patient during surgery, resulting in a more than 98% success rate of no return trips for a second surgery. The intraoperative MRI also allows for real-time, image-guided, placement of deep brain stimulator leads and laser ablation procedures.

Similar safety guidelines apply and must be followed including filling out an MRI safety questionnaire.

What are MRIs used for?

Our six state-of-the-art MRI scanners allow us to provide a full-spectrum of pediatric MRI procedures, including:

  • Fetal imaging
  • Functional imaging for brain activity
  • MRE (MR enterography) for small intestine imaging
  • MRU (MR urography) for urinary tract imaging, including kidneys
  • Cardiac imaging provides detailed pictures of the heart and vessels
  • Acute appendicitis imaging
  • Focused epilepsy imaging
  • Advanced stroke imaging

Patient handouts

MRI magnetic resonance imaging →

MRI Resonancia magnética →

Gadolinium Contrast →

MRE Magnet resonance Enterography →

We're here to help

Referring physicians: To schedule your patient (inpatient/outpatient), call 682-885-4076. You'll find referral forms on our appointments page.

Patients: For questions regarding your child's appointment, to reschedule or cancel, please call 682-885-4076. Schedulers are available 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Your doctor's office may have given you some directions to follow. If these directions are not followed correctly, your child's appointment may be delayed or rescheduled.

Preparing for your visit

If your child has been referred to us for a test and/or procedure, we will contact to you to schedule an appointment. At that time you will also be given any special instructions necessary to prepare for your visit, depending on what services your child will be receiving.