What Is MRI?

A Magnetic Resonance Imager, like this one in the picture, can look big and scary.

But really, it’s just a very fancy camera.  What makes it special is that it can take pictures of the inside of your body!

To take these fancy pictures, the MRI scanner uses a very powerful magnet, more than 200 times stronger than a refrigerator magnet.

Photo of Yasu the Bear taken with a regular camera

MRI photo of Humphrey the Buffalo

Because this magnet is really strong, we can wear anything with metal near it.  But it’s still very safe.  And you can’t feel it.  Last year, more than 30,000 people had an MRI scan.  Many of them were children.

When you have an MRI scan, a radiographer will help you lie down on a bed that will move you to the centre of the magnet.  A radiographer is someone who knows how to run the scanner and can answer any questions you or your parents might have.  Since the scanner can be rather loud, they will give you head phones to wear.  It can also be chilly, so they will put a blanket on you to help keep you warm.

While you are in the MRI scanner, you may hear clicking or banging sounds.  These are normal sounds the scanner makes when it is taking pictures, and nothing to be scared of.  We will put headphones on you to make it as quiet as possible, so quiet you may even fall asleep!

 

If you feel scared there is also a microphone so that we can hear and talk with you.  You are never really alone during the scan.  Your dad and mom may also be able to stand near the scanner and hold your feet.

 

A scan will usually last about 30 minutes and you can go to sleep if you want to.