Children's Hospital Colorado

Imaging Services (Radiology)

At Children’s Hospital Colorado, we treat the big things, the small things and everything in between.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses a magnetic field and radio waves to create detailed pictures of kids’ organs and other internal structures. It’s an important part of diagnosing and treating many conditions.

During the MRI scan, some children may find it challenging to lie still in a small tube with loud noises. That’s why doctors sometimes decide to use anesthesia. Anesthesia puts the child to sleep during the MRI. But, using anesthesia also means kids can’t eat or drink before the MRI, the appointment is longer and there can be risks from the medications used.

Led by our expert child life specialists, the MR-I Can Do It program at Children’s Hospital Colorado helps kids get scans without anesthesia, so they can quickly get back to the most important part of their day: having fun.

What are the benefits of the MR-I Can Do It™ Program?

The goal of the MR-I Can Do It program is to help kids undergo MRI imaging while they are awake and still have the best possible experience.

This MRI program:

  • Avoids unnecessary anesthesia
  • Reduces any distress and anxiety your child may have
  • Decreases time to the first available appointment
  • Reduces the cost of the visit

Who can participate in this MRI program?

Lots of kids are eligible. MR-I Can Do It works well for kids who are at least 4 years old and need scans that last less than an hour. Parents and caregivers simply complete a pre-visit phone call with one of our child life specialists, who determine eligibility based on the child’s developmental and behavioral characteristics.

How does the MR-I Can Do It™ program work?

When your child’s doctor or specialist orders an MRI, they can enroll your child in the program. A child life specialist will call to see if your child qualifies. If so, your child can be scheduled for MR-I Can Do It.

We may ask families to arrive 30 to 60 minutes before the scan to ensure enough time for your child to learn about the process and get prepared. Our child life specialist may prepare your child for the process using a photo book, video or virtual simulation. They’ll teach your child coping skills and support them using age-appropriate encouragement and tools.

Sometimes MRIs require a liquid called contrast, which is given through an IV. In those cases, we may use a topical numbing medicine to reduce the pain of the IV placement. Many kids in the MR-I Can Do It program complete their MRI without anesthesia. But if your child has trouble completing the scan while awake, that’s okay. If this happens, we’ll simply schedule a scan with anesthesia for another day.

About our MR-I Can Do It™ team

The MR-I Can Do It team has a lot of experience performing MRI scans and helping kids get through them successfully. During your visit, you’ll work most closely with a child life specialist and an MRI technologist.

  • Child life specialists are certified professionals who partner with families to meet the unique emotional and developmental needs of kids in the healthcare setting. They hold bachelor’s or master’s degrees in child development, therapeutic recreation or a related field, and they have extensive clinical training.
  • MRI technologists are licensed professionals who specialize in taking images of tissues, organs and bones using MRI. Our MRI technologists care for patients ranging from newborns to adults. Using specialized techniques and equipment designed for kids of all ages, we ensure a safe and friendly environment and do our best to make the visit a success.

Contact us

MR-I Can Do It is available at all Children’s Colorado locations that perform MRIs. If you’re interested or just want to know more, give us a call.