Preparing paediatric patients for MRI with virtual reality

Author(s): Dr Jonathan Ashmore, Regina Cremin, Kirstie Still, Dr Cormac McGrath, Nina Mellor, Laura McShane, Anna Symons

Hospital: NHS Highland, Northern Ireland Regional Medical Physics Service, Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust, Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children, King's College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

Reference: RAD Magazine, 47, 554, 16-17


Methods to prepare children for MRI have been investigated for decades and outcomes have shown appropriate preparation can reduce patient anxiety and the need for general anaesthetic (GA). For example, one study found that 40% fewer children required GA when preparation was used. Numerous methods have been applied to prepare children including mock scanners, play tunnels, and even therapy dogs to reduce anxiety. Given that an MRI under GA costs around an additional £600 per patient there is clear financial incentive to help children achieve an awake MRI. More importantly, however, is the safety benefit to the patient. Although the risks of general anaesthesia and other forms of sedation are low, adverse reactions can still occur and professional bodies have highlighted that uncertainty remains regarding the long term effects of anaesthetics in children.

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