Preparing for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)


MRI is a way of taking pictures of the inside of the body without using X-rays or radiation. The MRI machine uses a large magnet, radio waves, and computers to take pictures of your child’s body. These guidelines should be followed whether your child will be sedated or awake during the MRI.

The danger of metal near the MRI area

The large MRI magnet is very strong. It will attract metal objects, causing them to become hot or to move toward the scanner. This would be dangerous for anyone in the room. It is important that anyone who is going to be near the MRI area follow the safety rules outlined below.

  • Before you or your child enters the MRI area, the staff will ask you to fill out a screening form that asks about any metal in your child’s body or clothing. Be sure to dress your child in clothing with no metal snaps, zippers, or rivets.
  • Anyone entering the MRI area in Diagnostic Imaging or Radiation Oncology must pass a metal detector that is more sensitive than the ones you see in most airports. This rule includes parents or guardians who need to go with their child into the MRI area. If the detector shows that the person has metal on or in the body, this person will have to remove the metal and be screened again. If the metal cannot be removed, the person must not enter the area.

Remove metal before getting close to the MRI area

If your child is scheduled to get an MRI, you should do the following:

  • Try to dress in clothes (including undergarments) that do not contain metal; avoid snaps, zippers, hooks, wires, rivets, and shoes with steel caps.
  • Be ready to take off jewelry, hair clips (pins), shoes, watches, belts, suspenders, and body jewelry.
  • Be ready to change into a hospital gown.

You may want to bring a sweat suit or warm-up style clothing to change into during the MRI. Most often, the magnet does not attract U.S. coins and gold jewelry. Even so, for your safety and that of your child, the staff will ask you to remove these and other items, such as cell phones, pagers, keys, ink pens, pocket knives, tools, support braces, and credit cards. You can leave these items in a locker that the staff will provide. In addition, strollers, wheelchairs, and baby seats are not allowed in the restricted area. The staff can show you where to leave these items.

Medicine patches that are applied to the skin may contain metal. This could cause a burn to the skin during an MRI scan. All medication patches must be removed prior to an MRI scan.

MRI of the abdomen or abdomen and pelvis combined

If the doctor schedules a MRI scan of the abdomen or abdomen and pelvis, your child may be given a drug called hyoscyamine (Levsin®) intravenously (by vein). This medicine will decrease the motion of the bowel during the MRI scan and make the MRI picture clearer.

Possible side effects of hyoscyamine (Levsin®) include flushing of the skin, increased heart rate, mild stomach pain, and constipation. These side effects are usually mild. These are the most common side effects, but there may be others.

Your child will not be given hyoscyamine (Levsin®) if he has certain known medical conditions, or if he is taking a medicine that might increase the chance of a bad reaction.

If you have questions or concerns about this medicine, please call your child’s primary clinic. After hours, call the Medicine Room at 901-595-2441.


If you want to learn more about MRI scans or the safety rules for the MRI scan room, please talk to your child’s doctor, nurse, or the Diagnostic Imaging staff.

This document is not intended to take the place of the care and attention of your personal physician or other professional medical services. Our aim is to promote active participation in your care and treatment by providing information and education. Questions about individual health concerns or specific treatment options should be discussed with your physician.

St. Jude complies with health care-related federal civil rights laws and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex.

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