MRI Safety

Below we provide some information for parents concerned about the safety of MRI procedures. More detailed information is also available here.

The video below provides additional information. Answers to frequently asked questions can also be found on this page.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is MRI and how does it work?

Magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, is a method used to obtain detailed anatomical images of the brain (or other tissues). It is a preferred method because it does not use radiation like other techniques such as x-ray (thus, MRI is safer than a visit to the dentist). Instead, MRI uses a powerful magnetic field to assess how protons in water change the way they spin in response to particular radio waves.

Is there anything to be concerned about?

MRI causes no pain, and the magnetic field produces no negative consequences to the body. The MR scanner is loud, however, and precautions must be taken to protect hearing. Some participants also experience claustrophobia (discomfort in enclosed spaces), and tingling in the extremities, which is caused by excitation of the nerves in some individuals. In these rare cases the scan is stopped. Importantly, people who do experience tingling report that the tingling stops when the scan stops. Participants are able to communicate with the MRI technologist or radiologist at any time using an intercom system, and so the scan can always be stopped immediately at the participant’s request.

How safe is MRI?

When proper precautions are taken, MRI is very safe. Major safety issues are only encountered because the magnetic field is very strong, and will strongly attract any objects containing iron. Therefore, participants must remove everything containing metal, including jewelry (rings, earrings, bracelets, watches, piercings…), metallic buttons and fasteners, belt buckles, bras with underwires, and cards with magnetic strips. People who have metal implants, pacemakers, or who have had foreign metal objects in their eyes, cannot participate.

All participants are screened thoroughly before signing up for a study.

If you have any questions about the safety of MRI, please do no hesitate to contact Dr. Anthony Dick at 305-348-4202 or 305-348-9055.