A Journey with Love and Laughter

Read about our family as we journey through life as a family, with siblings, school and spina bifida, and lots of fun and laughter along the way!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Awake MRI

Yearly MRI's are not anything new to us. We usually travel down to Sick Kids every 2 years for a sedated MRI.
I think that Nick has had 4 or 5 MRIs (not including the one in utero). He had one just after he was born, I remember them wheeling him down in his bed. I think he had another one in 2010, but I can't actually find the post for that one, so maybe not? Nick had regular MRIs done in 2011, 2012 and 2014. These are all to look at his brain and spine. And we have been (knock on wood) so far, so good.
All of these MRIs involved sedation.
Because Nick was young, and it is important to stay perfectly still while they take pictures, it is standard to use sedation and have the child go to sleep with general anaesthetic. This makes the MRIs more involved (and riskier, with the risk of general anaesthetic). It also involves some sort of recovery, because general anaesthetic throws your body off.

When we had our last neurosurgery consult and Dr Rutka ordered an MRI, I asked about having an unsedated MRI. I was told they usually start doing this at 6 years old. Nick is 6, so I wanted to try. I think that he will be able to stay still long enough.
If he is not able to stay still, we will have to reschedule the MRI on another day.But I thought it was worth a try to be able to skip the general anaesthesia.

I have had an MRI myself (when I was pregnant with Nick) and so I know what it is like. I remember needing to stay perfectly still. It was loud and there was a speaker for the tech to talk to me. I kept my eyes closed the entire time because I knew that the machine was a couple of inches away from my face. And to keep myself calm and to distract myself I sang (in my head) the entire Act 1 of Phantom of the Opera. The MRI took about an hour, and so did Act 1.

Keeping my own experiences in mind. I wanted to find a way to prepare Nick for the MRI. When they called us with the appointment day and time, 545pm on Feb 4th, I asked about preparation but they didn't really have any suggestions other than to search for youtube videos. (Which I was surprised about, that Sick Kids didn't have their own video like other hospitals).
I am most worried about how Nick will react to the noises. As loud noises bother him anyways.
This video has some examples of some of the noises.


Nick knows another boy, a couple of years older than him, who had an MRI done recently. So he was talking with Nick about what to expect.

I have also been looking online for some resources.
This link: http://www.texaschildrensblog.org/2013/04/preparing-your-child-for-an-mri/ has a child life specialist who talks about the MRI, it is similar to the above video, but I don't find the noise to be as clear.
Some other resources that I found are:
Specific for Brain: http://kidshealth.org/parent/system/medical/mri_brain.html?tracking=P_RelatedArticle
Specific for Spine: http://kidshealth.org/parent/system/medical/mri_lumbar.html?tracking=P_RelatedArticle

While I am discussing MRI. I also want to understand what information we are getting from an MRI. An MRI is considered to be safe, and does not involve any radiation. Instead it uses magnets and radio waves to take pictures that can create a 3D image of the body. It is important to stay still while the pictures are being taken so that it is a clear image.


The MRI of the spine looks at the bones, spinal cord, nerves and disks. The MRI of the brain can ensure that the shunt is working, but also give a clear picture of different structures of the brain.

So we are hoping for a successful non-sedated MRI which will show that everything is stable. My concern (which is always my concern) is that the change in bracing and the weak knees is a sign of tethered cord and that there is something going on inside that we can't see.


1 comment:

  1. I had a brain MRI when I was like... 17? 18? around 4 years ago and the sounds reminded me of those old school video games where you shoot things, aliens is what I thought of. I'm writing because that may resonate with him?

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