A low cost, volunteer-based program to prepare children to undergo magnetic resonance imaging without sedation

Michele Capurso, Corrado Rossetti, Luca Mutti, Anita Ciani, Valerio Santangelo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a common medical procedure that often causes increased anxiety and distress in children due to the procedure conditions. For this reason, children are commonly sedated or anaesthetized during MRI, and this adds an additional risk. Objective: An MRI intervention practice was introduced in a local public hospital in central Italy to prepare children to undergo MRI without sedation. The program was initially set up by university staff and was carried out by a local organization after training. Materials and methods: The program was based on a bioecological approach and took place between 2008 and 2017 in a playroom, using role-play, socio-emotional support, teaching of coping skills, behavioral modeling and desensitization. Data were collected retrospectively with respect to age, gender, duration of scans and scan quality, which was assessed by a radiologist using a Likert scale. Results: Sixty-six children were included in the program (age 3–14 y; mean age 7.5 y; standard deviation, 2.55; 63% males). All of the children succeeded in completing the preparation, and 61 (92.4%) achieved a clinically diagnostic MRI without sedation. Image quality was in line with similar studies. There was no effect of exam duration on image quality and no correlation between age and image quality. Conclusion: The MRI preparation program enabled children to cope with the procedure without sedation. This program represents an example of the collaboration between educators, practitioners, and volunteers, jointly taking an active role in supporting children during a medical procedure.

Original languageEnglish
JournalChildren's Health Care
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


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