Magnetic resonance imaging of children without sedation: Preparation with simulation

David R. Rosenberg, John A. Sweeney, Joseph S. Gillen, Jae Kim, Michael J. Varanelli, Kirsten M. O'Hearn, Patricia A. Erb, Denise Davis, Keith R. Thulborn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

145 Scopus citations


Objective: It was hypothesized that a scanner simulator that replicates the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) environment could be used to prepare pediatric subjects for successful completion of a diagnostic-quality MRI examination without pharmacological sedation. Method: Sixteen healthy children, 6 to 17 years of age, were matched for age and sex with 16 psychotropic medication-naive children with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Distress was measured throughout simulation and scanning procedures using heart rate and a self-report distress scale. Ten healthy children, 6 to 17 years of age, also underwent the same actual MRI scanning procedure but did not undergo the simulation scanning procedure. Results: Significant decreases in heart rate and self-reported distress level were observed in all subjects during the simulator session that were maintained to the end of the actual scanner experience. All subjects successfully completed MRI examinations without chemical restraint. Subjects who were not trained in the simulator had higher heart rates and self-reported distress levels in the actual scanner than did simulation-trained subjects. Conclusions: Simulation without pharmacological sedation successfully prepared pediatric subjects in this pilot study for high-quality MRI studies. Subject preparation may be an alternative procedure to sedation for routine MRI examination in healthy and anxious children 6 years of age and older.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)853-859
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1997


  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Pediatric
  • Pharmacological sedation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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