Help Your Kids Sit Still Through an MRI

 Recently reported by Jude Children’s Research Hospital and published in Pediatric Radiology, experts have developed a new way to get kids to stay still during MRI scans.  Sometimes children have to be sedated undergo an MRI scan, because it is just hard for children to sit still for that amount of time.  However, this new method will help children as young as 5 years old successfully receive MRIs.  Jude Children’s ResearchHospital has created an intervention program for children to go through before they go get their MRI.

The program is created by Child Life Program at St. Jude, and it teaches the children and their parents what to expect during the MRI.  They tell children what they could think about during the exams to distract and appease them.  They worked with the children and parents to discuss the most effective ways to get them stay still, since all children are different and require different methods.

“Some patients chose to listen to music or to squeeze a ball to help them remember not to move.  Some patients had the option of watching movies or having parents in the room with them during the tests,” Katherine Cejda said, a specialist at St. Jude and author of the study.

This study was conducted on children with sickle cell disease, and since they have to get MRIs to examine their livers and brains, going under anesthesia is unsafe.  St. Jude’s examined 71 patients between the ages of 5-12 and found that the patients were 8 times more likely to make it through the entire scan without undergoing anesthesia than those children who did not go through the intervention program.  91% of the children who participated in the classes had a successful MRI, whereas only 71% of the children who did not go through the program made it through the scan successfully.

Although this is only the first trial performed on children suffering from sickle cell disease, Cejda explains that there are many other studies and programs that have been done around the U.S. focused on intervention programs for young kids needing MRIs.

This is an extremely important study for sickle cell patients especially due to the daner associated with anesthesia for these patients.  Anesthesia can lead to dehydration, lowered body temperature, and drops in blood-oxygen levels.  Dehydration is especially dangerous for sickle cell patients, because it can make the cells build up, causing harsh pain and resulting in pneumonia-like symptoms.

Normally, if the sickle cell patient does have to go under anesthesia they are required to stay the night in the hospital before the procedure, so that they can consume enough fluids and might even require a blood transfusion.

The program is also beneficial because it may cut costs for hospitals, which helps for the hospital, the insurance companies, and most importantly the patients.

Although this research’s focus was on sickle cell patients, it can also help children with other needs undergo an MRI scan in an easier fasion!  No parent wants to resort to their kid going under anesthesia, so share this study with your family and friends!

To read the whole article on sickle cell MRI studies, click the attached link.