MRI with Anesthesia Overview

How Boston Children's Hospital approaches MRI with anesthesia:

Sometimes, MRIs need to be performed under general anesthesia. In these cases, the Division of MRI at Boston Children's Hospital provides a soothing, kid-friendly environment with:

  • Highly trained pediatric radiologists with expertise in supervising and interpreting MRI in children of all ages
  • Experienced pediatric anesthesiologists and sedation nurses
  • Technologists with years of experience in imaging children and teens
  • Protocols and procedures specifically for pediatric use, which means age-appropriate care for children and the best possible images for the radiologists.

How is the anesthesia administered for MRI?

  • Speak with you about your child's health history and status and perform a brief physical exam to confirm that your child can be safely anesthetized.
  • Discuss the best anesthesia plan for your child.
  • Administer the anesthesia and monitor your child throughout the exam and recovery.

When the anesthesia team members have completed their exam, your child will be transported into the scanner room. If the anesthesiologist determines that you can accompany your child into the scanner room (only one parent would be allowed), you will be allowed to stay in the room until your child is asleep. You will then be escorted to the waiting area.

The radiologist will review the images and create a report of the findings and diagnosis for your referring doctor.

When is anesthesia needed during an MRI?

MRI is often used to obtain specific diagnostic information not already provided by other imaging technologies such as computed tomography (CT), nuclear medicine, ultrasound, and X-ray.

Movement will cause the MRI pictures to be blurred. Your child must lie still during the MRI scan. The use of anesthesia will cause your child to go to sleep and remain motionless and comfortable during the scan.