Thursday 29 January 2015

Preparing your child for an MRI scan

Children under 5 mostly have their MRI's under general anaesthetic . After 5 years old they like to see if they can lie still without the need for sedation / GA.

At 21 months Joel had an MRI (head) with GA – he had no problems at all - fasting was his biggest issue because he did not understand why I refused to let him breastfeed or food. There was never a question of having it without sedation. He had already being forcibly strapped down for a few renal scans DMSA as a toddler and that was most traumatic for both of us. Me - I cried bucketfuls handing over my unconscious baby and walking out the door.

Sam had his first MRI brain at 5 1/2, the Children’s hospital staff encouraged us to visit for a mock MRI a week or so prior to the actual diagnostic procedure ; in case GA was needed. He needed an MRI to check his optic nerve pathways and brain because of his Neurofibromatosis (NF1) diagnosis*.

Having had an MRI myself , I wasn’t sure if Sam would make it through awake and STILL. As a boy he was rarely still.

The educational play therapist (I think) read Sam (& Joel) a story while they were engaged in playing with a miniature you version of an MRI machine and a tiny patient doll.

Then she explained the tunnel-like MRI machine (behind a curtain when you enter the room) It was a real life size machine without functioning magnets or scanning ability.

 Sam was allowed to explore the machine and then lie on the movable scanning bed.

The therapist played a pre recorded version of the NOISY, steady pumping sounds - loud whirring, clicking and even banging of the magnets –while Sam had a go at lying still , like a statue. 

In the real MRI – the loud noises pound as the magnets work to produce the images for 30-40 mins or longer. They had headphones and allow the children to watch a video through a mirror above them.

They told Sam everything he needed to know and more (the hurty bit with a cannula) complete with a practice drill of the entire MRI process. Though it lasted for only for about 10-15 mins.

How much did he understand ?

Sam was a trooper and he nailed it. It took about 30 - 40 mins from memory for the complete diagnostic scan.

Fast forward 3 yrs and Sam required a follow-up MRI - yesterday. We had it done locally and they will send the CD images to Westmead Children's for reporting.

I think he remembered most of the process from his first MRI adventure. As we had been holidaying and paddling the last 6 days I didn’t have time or even think about preparing him again.

On the way in the car I made the mistake of saying they used a contrast dye for the images – he heard DIE – “what DIE ?” he said worriedly ? I rephrased it. Oops.

In hindsight , I should have hit The Google machine , tonight after a reader asked a question I found dozens of you tube videos.

*NF causes mostly benign tumours to grow on nerves. NF is a lifelong medical condition and can affect many organs in the body, including the skin, eyes, bones, and nervous system. 

 Sure, Cupid's Undie Run - Australia is all about running with your pants off for a laugh. But it's also about supporting a great cause!

We run and fundraise because we believe there is a solution to end NF out there somewhere. Through the research guided by the Children's Tumour Foundation, funded in part by Cupid's Undie Run's fundraising, we will find this final piece of the NF puzzle. We will find a cure.

  Sam was so brave while I felt like crying. We won't get results until 4 weeks when he head to the Westmead Children's NF Neurogenetics clinic appointment.

Please consider a donation no matter how small - everything counts.