This page explains what to expect when your child has a general anaesthetic for a Computerised Tomography (CT) or a Magnetic Resonance Image (MRI) scan.

What is an MRI scanner?

An MRI scanner uses a big magnet to take pictures of the inside of your body. It is very safe. The MRI scanner looks like an open ended tunnel with a bed that slides in and out. Something we call a coil is placed around the area we want to scan and collects messages from your body to make into a picture, we have lots of different sizes and shapes for different areas of the body.

You, and the person with you, will be asked questions by the MRI staff to make sure you are safe to have a scan. You can have someone with you for the whole time of the scan. You will have to take any metal items off, such as jewellery, glasses and watches and remove any coins and phone from your pockets. These will be locked away safely for you. You can bring a metal free soft toy into the scanner with you to hold. The scan will not hurt, but can be very noisy!

Before the scan

If you would like to see the scanner or hear the noises it makes before your scan, we can organise this for you. Please contact the number at the end of this page to arrange a visit.

Will I need an injection?

Sometimes, you will have an injection of dye to give more detail on your pictures. The dye does not hurt you but will feel cold as it goes in, it is completely colourless. We will insert a small tube called a cannula in your arm or hand. The dye will be given through the cannula.

What happens in the scanner?

You will be given a buzzer, like a soft ball, to hold during your scan. Squeeze this if you need us to stop, come in or if you want to ask a question. When you are ready, you can lie on the bed and we will give you a blanket to make you comfortable. The scanner makes lots of strange noises; humming, whirring, clicking and clunking noises.

As it is noisy, we give you earplugs or headphones and we can play music sometimes. If it is a scan of your head, we can play a CD if you bring one in with you. The scan takes between 10 minutes and 1 hour. Try and keep really still so your pictures come out clearly. If the pictures are blurred, we may have to do them again. When the scan is finished, you can go home.


The results will be sent to the doctor looking after you. This can take a few weeks. They will then arrange an appointment to see you.


If you have any concerns or questions or you wish to arrange a visit to see and hear the scanner, please contact us on the number below:

MRI Appointments Office Tel:

0300 422 4488

Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 4:30pm

Printable version of this page

MRI scan for children Department: Paediatrics Review due: August 2024 PDF, 410.9 KB, 3 pages
Reference number GHPI1652_08_21
Department Paediatrics
Review due August 2024