One of the problems with imaging pediatric patients using MRI is the fact that they have to lie still in a confined space during the procedure. That's not the easiest thing to do for anyone, let alone a young child who's anxious and perhaps feeling a little claustrophobic.
Now, with the help of a dozen credit unions across Missouri, Women's and Children's Hospital in Columbia, Mo., has purchased a set of $44,000 MRI-compatible video goggles and noise-cancelling headphones to help put some of the younger patients at ease.
More importantly from a health standpoint, helping pediatric patients keep calm during MRI procedures means that some of these youngsters can avoid having to be sedated for the scanning process. By using the goggles on these patients, technologists can reduce the amount of time needed for the scan, which "is much more beneficial to the kids," Mark Burton, MRI supervisor at Women's and Children's Hospital, recently told the Columbia Daily Tribune.
The hospital performs between 2,500 and 2,700 pediatric MRI scans annually, or an average of seven a day, according to the newspaper. Children who use the goggles see nothing but the video they are watching during an MRI procedure, and the noise cancelling headphones eliminate the noise produced by the machine's magnets.
The video is streamlined from a DVD player through fiber optic cables that don't interfere with the MRI. And if a technologist needs to talk to a patient during the procedure he or she can simply pause the video during the course of the conversation.
A number of studies have shown the effectiveness pediatric facilities have had in using movies or visual images during an MRI. For example, a study out of the Cincinnati Children's Hospital found that the use of video goggles and other audiovisual devices helped reduce the frequency of sedating children under the age of seven for MRI by 35 percent.