Parent Talk: Is an MRI Safe for a Child?

As a parent, it's natural to be concerned about putting your children through medical imaging tests such as MRI, CT scans and X-rays.

If your child’s doctor or health care provider recommends your child for an MRI scan, we’re here to help you clear all your doubts on the question, “Is an MRI safe for a child?”

young girl standing infront of an MRI machine
a little boy sitting inside a wide bore MRI machine

Risk of Radiation in MRI Scans for Children— None

Since a child's body is still developing, the risks that come with exposure to radiation can be higher than for adults. Fortunately, MRI and ultrasound scans don't use ionising radiation. Ionising radiation is the high-energy, radioactive particles used in CT scans and X-rays.

Instead of radiation, MRI machines use a strong magnet and radio waves, making it the safest medical imaging option for children. Doctors and health care providers will often refer patients under the age of 20 to undergo an MRI rather than a CT scan, as both diagnostic exams provide similar information.

Overview of the MRI Procedure

An MRI scan is a painless procedure that takes approximately 20 to 30 minutes and requires little to no preparation. The only necessary preparation for this procedure is to remove metal devices and objects, including jewellery, zippers on clothes and toys with metallic materials.

Some discomfort may occur during the procedure though, as the enclosed space may make some children feel anxious and restless. At Melbourne Radiology Clinic, our MRI scanner has a wider bore size than standard units that may help your kids feel less claustrophobic.

Some patients will also need an IV contrast injection for their scan, which can cause slight discomfort.

If you need support for your child’s upcoming MRI, or want to learn more about the procedure, here’s our detailed guide for parents on MRI scans for children. For queries or appointments, you can contact us or call (03) 9667 1667.