Okee in Medical Imaging

Visiting MRI

  • How long does it take?

    Having your pictures taken in MRI usually takes about 30 minutes – but it can take anywhere from 15 to 90 minutes – depending on what type of pictures you need.

    Who will I meet?

    The person who takes your pictures is called an MRI Technologist. They’ll let you know everything that you need to do and can answer any questions you might have!

    Other people you might meet are: a nurse, a play therapist and someone called a Radiologist – that’s the doctor that looks at your pictures

    What will I see?

    The MRI camera

    The MRI camera is pretty big, but it needs to be so it can take pictures of your whole body! It looks a bit like a tunnel you might see at the playground.

    MRI camera

    The head coil

    This is a special helmet with a mirror that helps you watch a movie while you’re in the tunnel. It clicks in beside your head and won’t move or touch you. If you have pictures taken of your legs or abdomen (tummy), you will probably go into the tunnel feet first, and you won’t need this. But you’ll still get to watch a movie using a different mirror.

    MRI head coil


    The camera can be a bit noisy when it takes the pictures, so you’ll be given some headphones – these will help you listen to your movie and block some of the camera sounds.

    MRI headphones

    Arm coil

    MRI Arm coil

    Leg coil

    MRI leg coil

    Chest coil

    MRI chest coil

    These pieces are called ‘coils’ and they help make your pictures look better. There are lots of different types – they go over or around the part of your body the camera is taking pictures of. The MRI technologist will tell you if you need one for your pictures.

    What else should I know?

    Contrasts and tracers

    Sometimes MRI pictures need something called ‘contrast’. This is a special liquid that helps the pictures look brighter.

    Learn more

    Holding your breath

    If you are having pictures taken of your chest or abdomen (tummy) you might need to hold your breath for short periods while we take your picture.

    Learn more

    General anaesthetic

    Sometimes it can be tricky to stay still long enough to have your pictures taken. If so, doctors might give you a general anaesthetic (or GA) to help you go into a short special sleep just while you have your pictures taken.

    Learn more

    How you can help

    Keeping still

    It’s really important to keep still while having your picture taken. If you move around, the picture comes out blurry. It’s still okay to breathe normally, blink and stay relaxed

    What to bring

    You might need to wait around before your picture can be taken so it’s a good idea to bring some things to keep you busy – an iPad, books, or other activities that don’t need too much space. If you have a favourite stuffed toy, they can come with you - and have their picture taken too if they don’t have any metal parts. You can also bring your favourite movie to watch while having your pictures taken!

    What to wear

    The best clothes to wear are comfy ones! The MRI camera has magnets in it, so it’s really important to wear clothes with NO metal – that includes zippers, metal buttons or press studs, as well as any jewellery or metal hair ties. This also includes clothes with glitter or sequins. If you forget, the MRI technologist can give you a hospital gown to wear instead. This goes for your parents too if they’re staying with you in the MRI room.

    How parents can help

    Asking questions

    Before your appointment, check the requirements of your child’s scan on their appointment letter. If there is anything you are unsure of or don’t understand, please contact MRI reception on 03 9345 4301.

    Play Therapy

    The Educational Play Therapy department runs a mock MRI practice program that is available to all patients undergoing an MRI at the RCH. It is expected that children between 4-8 years will attend a mock MRI session prior to undergoing their first MRI. This session will educate you and your child about the MRI experience and allow your child to practise lying still in a simulator MRI. The play therapist will then assess if your child is suitable to undergo their MRI awake or if they will require a general anaesthetic (GA). If your child has not had a mock MRI appointment booked and you feel they would benefit from one, please contact MRI reception on 03 9345 4301 as soon as possible, as they book up well in advance. Please note: these appointments are only available to patients undergoing imaging at The Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne.

    Please note: these appointment are only available to patients undergoing imaging at The Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne.

    Preparing your child

    It is important to be honest but considerate of your child’s developmental level. It is a good idea to explain to your child why they need the scan. Children over the age of 5 generally cope best when they are informed of their procedure the week prior, and are given the opportunity to process the information and ask questions. Children under 5 are best told about their appointment the day before. You are encouraged to explore the Okee app games and to discuss the content with your child before their appointment.

    What else should I know?

    Contrasts and tracers

    If your child’s scan requires IV contrast, they will be required to have a cannula (small straw) inserted into a vein with a needle.

    Learn more

    Breath holding

    If your child is having images taken of their chest or abdomen, they will need to hold their breath repeatedly throughout their imaging.

    Learn more


    If your child is between 4 to 12 months old, sedation is usually preferred to general anaesthetic. You will generally be required to be at the hospital for around 3 hours.

    Learn more

    General anaesthetic

    If your child is assessed as being unable to undergo their MRI awake, they may need to be re-booked for a General Anaesthetic (GA) MRI. Please note this will be scheduled for a different date than their awake MRI appointment.

    Learn more