ARIZONA NEWS

Phoenix Children’s Hospital helps kids endure MRIs without anesthesia

Feb 26, 2020, 1:00 PM
Phoenix Children's Hospital MRI...
(KTAR News Photo/Taylor Kinnerup)
(KTAR News Photo/Taylor Kinnerup)

PHOENIX — Tight spaces, bright lights and loud noises — getting an MRI can be overwhelming for anyone, but especially for kids.

The experience can be so overwhelming that a majority of children are given anesthesia to help keep them calm and still during the test.

Phoenix Children’s Hospital has three MRI scanners that perform a combined 12 to 16 scans per day on patients ranging from newborns to teens.

However, PCH is working to take anesthesia out of the equation with its new MRI prep class.

“We kind of started with a trial run of this class in September of 2019, then took a break around the holiday,” said Lauren Strom, PCH child life specialist. “Now we’re starting it up again this month with two classes a month, two Tuesdays a month, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.”

The program, which has been 100% effective in its current form, begins with a phone call with parents to make sure their child is the right fit for the program.

“The age range that we’re looking at right now is ages 6 to 12,” Strom said. “We’re looking at scans around 30 minutes, so a lot of the brain scans. Also, some of the questions we ask them to assess is if your child has any sensitivity to loud sounds or if your child can sit still for long periods of time.”

From there, families pick a class to join. In groups of four or five, the young patients spend 30 minutes learning all about MRIs and what to expect.

Strom has toys and tools fitting for almost any age, from a custom-made wooden toy version of an MRI to virtual reality goggles that simulate the experience in 90 seconds.

“The kids kind of feed off each other and encourage each other as far as being able to support each other in doing their exam while awake,” she said.

In just half an hour, the kids are fully prepared and sent a few feet down the hall to an MRI tech like Adam Estrada.

“I take pride in my role at Phoenix Children’s Hospital to try to get the kids through the exam,” Estrada said.

The PCH MRI machines have all the bells and whistles: music, a DVD player and even puppy or sea animal decorations. Estrada does whatever he can to put kids at ease while inside the scanner.

As a father of three, he knows how helpful it can be for families to skip the anesthesia.

“Anesthesia is very, very expensive,” he said. “I use that as a tool sometimes to coach these kids like, ‘Hey you’re going to save your mom and dad a lot of money if you’re able to get this examine done. Maybe you can get your favorite dinner or dessert because you saved your parents a lot of money.'”

This saves families not only money, but time. Kids who can participate in the classes are able to get their MRIs months in advance of their scheduled appointments.

Not to mention, it saves them the prep time needed for anesthesia.

“They have to go six hours without eating or drinking anything,” Estrada explained. “You know, if their appointment is at 3 in the afternoon, they’re going a majority of the day without eating or drinking anything. So if you’re able to save them that time prep, we’re able to say ‘Hey, we can get you through this buddy.'”

Even more than the time and money, both Estrada and Strom said they see kids’ mentality and demeanor change through the process.

“When you can empower a little one and give them this sense of empowerment that ‘I can do this,” the sky is the limit,” Estrada said with a smile.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

A nurse puts a used syringe into a box at an Italian Red Cross anti COVID-19 vaccination hub, in Ro...
KTAR.com

Arizona adds under 2,000 COVID-19 cases for first time this month

Arizona on Monday reported fewer than 2,000 new COVID-19 cases for the first time this month, but hospital numbers remained at their highest levels since last winter.
11 hours ago
(Sunrise Park Resort screenshot)...
KTAR.com

Sunrise Park Resort to open for 2021-22 winter season next week

Sunrise Park Resort announced Sunday it plans to open the 2021-22 winter season on Dec. 10, a week later than the projected date.
11 hours ago
(File photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)...
KTAR.com

Arizona ranked as one of the least charitable states, per WalletHub

It's the season of giving but a personal finance website ranked Arizona as one of the least charitable states in the country.
11 hours ago
(City of Chandler Photo)...
KTAR.com

Tumbleweed Tree lighting, Parade of Lights to take place this weekend in Chandler

An East Valley holiday tradition is back in-person this year as event organizers prepare for the 65th annual Tumbleweed Tree lighting and the Parade of Lights on Saturday.
11 hours ago
(Photo by Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images)...
Associated Press

Flagstaff pauses construction of USGS facilities over rising costs

The city of Flagstaff is hitting pause on the construction of new buildings in partnership with the U.S. Geological Survey because of soaring costs.
11 hours ago
Americans are expected to spend an average of $886 on gifts this holiday season. Spending in Arizon...
SIMON WILLIAMS | CRONKITE NEWS

It’s beginning to look a lot like a post-COVID Christmas for vendors

In the second holiday season of the pandemic era, goods may cost more, but Americans have more money to spend – and they appear to be eager to spend it.
11 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Sanderson Ford

Sanderson Ford offers cars and deals for all this holiday season

Sanderson Ford’s No! Vember Black Friday sale is giving an opportunity to purchase a new 2021 vehicle just in time for the holiday season.
...
DISC DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

What you need to know about spine health

With 540 million people suffering from lower back pain, it remains the leading cause of long-term disability. That’s why World Spine Day on Oct. 16 will raise awareness about spinal health with its theme, BACK2BACK. “BACK2BACK will focus on highlighting ways in which people can help their spines by staying mobile, avoiding physical inactivity, not overloading […]
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Why fall maintenance is important for your heating system and A/C

It’s easy to ignore your heater and air conditioner when they’re working but the moment something breaks, you will likely regret not keeping up with maintenance. After all, if something goes wrong, you may be stuck with a repair that will take longer and be more expensive than simple maintenance.
Phoenix Children’s Hospital helps kids endure MRIs without anesthesia