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Health Information For Parents
A PET/MRI scan is an imaging test that combines PET (positron emission tomography) and MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) in one session. It creates very detailed pictures of the inside of the body.
PET/MRI scans (also called PET/MR scans) help doctors make a diagnosis and decide on the best treatment for conditions like epilepsy and tumors in the body, including brain tumors. For example, if a child is having seizures that don’t respond to medicines, doctors can do a PET/MRI scan of the brain to see if surgery could help.
A PET/MRI scanner is like two tests in one, a PET scan and an MRI. Combining the PET and MRI studies makes a very detailed 3D image of the body.
For the PET scan, a small amount of a radioactive element (called a tracer) is injected into the blood. The tracer goes to different areas of the body, depending upon how much energy is needed. For example, if doctors want to know where seizures are happening in the brain, they use a glucose (sugar) tracer. Because the brain uses more glucose in the area where a seizure happens, the tracer would go to this area if a seizure happens during the scan.
The MRI uses magnets to make an image of the body and a picture of the area being scanned. The PET finds any abnormality.
Follow these instructions along with any others given to you by your doctor:
For 24 hours before the scan, make sure your child:
Don’t let your child eat or drink for 6 hours before the scan (water is OK).
Be sure your child does not wear jewelry, hairpins, or clothing with metal (zippers, buttons, etc.) during the scan.
Children with epilepsy will need an EEG during the first part of the PET scan. Before the scan, the technician will check your child’s blood sugar level and inject the tracer through an IV line (a tiny tube inserted in a vein).
Your child will rest quietly for up to 45 minutes to allow the tracer to settle in the body. The EEG will be running at that time. Then your child is placed in the PET/MRI scanner.
Babies and young children are sedated during a PET/MRI scan. This means they’re given medicine to calm them and let them sleep. Your child’s heartbeat, breathing, and oxygen levels will be checked the whole time he or she is sedated.
During the scan, your child will lay flat on a table that moves in and out of a doughnut-shaped MRI machine. For a PET/MRI scan of the brain, your child’s head will rest inside a plastic coil (which resembles a round laundry basket).
A contrast solution might be injected in the IV line during the exam to show certain details. Your child will hear loud knocking and buzzing during the study. He or she may be able to wear headphones and listen to music.
The entire procedure usually lasts 2–3 hours. The PET/MRI scan itself takes about an hour, depending on the number of scans your doctor ordered. Your child may need extra recovery time after sedation.
After the scan, unless told otherwise, your child can return to normal activities and diet. Most sedation wears off within 1–2 hours. Your child shouldn’t feel any effects from the radiotracer or contrast material, which will pass through the body within 12–24 hours.
A radiologist (a doctor trained in medical imaging) will look at the pictures made by the PET/MRI scan. Your doctor will share the results with you.
A PET/MRI scan is a safe test. There’s no radiation from the MRI because no X-rays are used. Large amounts of radioactivity can be dangerous, but the amount used in a PET scan is very small, about the same as from flying cross-country three times.
There is a very small risk of an allergic reaction to the contrast or a bad reaction to the medicine used in sedation.
Before the scan:
After the scan:
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a safe and painless test that uses a magnetic field and radio waves to produce detailed pictures of the body’s organs and structures.
A brain MRI, a safe and painless test that produces detailed images of the brain and the brain stem, can help detect cysts, tumors, bleeding, and other problems.
It comes from a Greek word meaning “to hold or seize,” and seizures are what happen to people with epilepsy. Learn more about epilepsy in this article written just for kids.
Epilepsy causes electrical signals in the brain to misfire, which can lead to multiple seizures. Anyone can get epilepsy at any age, but mostÂ new diagnoses are in kids.
Seizures are a common symptom of epilepsy, a condition that affects millions of people worldwide. Learn all about epilepsy, including what to do if you see someone having a seizure.
Intractable epilepsy is when a child’s seizures can’t be controlled by medicines. Doctors may recommend surgery or other treatments for intractable seizures.
Brain tumors are the second most common group of childhood cancers. Treatment requires a very specialized plan involving a team of medical specialists.
Seizures are caused by a sudden surge of electrical activity in the brain. Find out what you need to know about seizures and what to do if your child has one.
Getting an MRI doesn’t hurt, but you have to be still for as long as an hour. Watch how this test is done in this video for kids.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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