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Q: Help my autistic son understand hospital trip ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   2 Comments )
Subject: Help my autistic son understand hospital trip
Category: Health > Children
Asked by: nkamom-ga
List Price: $25.00
Posted: 10 Jan 2005 12:14 PST
Expires: 09 Feb 2005 12:14 PST
Question ID: 455126
I am taking my 4-year-old son to the hospital tomorrow for a MRI and a
3d CT scan.  I want to prepare him for what it will be like.  I am
looking for child-level explainations of the procedures.  He is not
particularly good with oral information, so pictures would be helpful.
We often use the "picture exchange communication system" (PECS) They
are hand-drawn pictures of items and activities.  I have the pictures
for hospital, doctor, machine, lie down, relax and camera.  I am
looking more for specific information to tell/show him what to expect.

Request for Question Clarification by bobbie7-ga on 10 Jan 2005 13:25 PST
Hello again Nkamom, 

Please take a look at the images that I posted in the comment section.

Are these the sort of images that you require?


Clarification of Question by nkamom-ga on 10 Jan 2005 14:00 PST
The pictures are just what I wanted.  Did you find any child-level
explainations that I can use to tell him while I show the pictures? 
And is the MRI machine and the CT machine the same in appearance?  It
seems so in the pictures you posted.  Having not done this myself, it
is hard to prepare him.

Thanks for the images.
Subject: Re: Help my autistic son understand hospital trip
Answered By: bobbie7-ga on 10 Jan 2005 15:36 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hello Nkamom, 

Thank you for your clarification.

The MRI and the CT machines look a bit similar because they both have
a circular opening.

What is the difference between CT and MRI? 

CAT Scans 

?Cat scans are a specialized type of x-ray.  The patient lies down on
a couch  which slides into a large circular opening.  The x-ray tube
rotates around the patient and a computer collects the results.  These
results are translated into images that look like a "slice" of the
MRI is a completely different!  Unlike CT it uses magnets and radio
waves to create the images.  No x-rays are used in an MRI scanner.

The patient lies on a couch that looks very similar the ones used for
CT.  They are then placed in a very long cylinder and asked to remain
perfectly still.  The machine will produce a lot of noise and
examinations typically run about 30 minutes.

The cylinder that you are lying in is actually a very large magnet. 
The computer will send radio waves through your body and collect the
signal that is emitted from the hydrogen atoms in your cells.  This
information is collected by an antenna and fed into a sophisticated
computer that produces the images.  These images look similar to a CAT
scan but they have much higher detail in the soft tissues.

Here are images of both so that you can see for yourself.

MRI scanner

CAT OR CT scanner

Here are the images that I provided previously divided into MRI and CT scans.


CT Scan

What does the CT equipment look like?

?A CT is a large square shaped machine.  It has a good sized hole in
the middle, much like a doughnut.  The patient lies on an associated
table, which moves into and out of the hole as x-rays are generated by
a rotating gantry.  This movement produces clicking and whirring
The CT scanner is a large rectangular unit with a hole in its center,
resembling a gigantic doughnut. Your child will lie on a motorized
table set on tracks, which can move up or down and slide into and out
of the central opening. Both the tube that emits the x-ray beam and
the detectors that record radiation passing through the body are built
into the scanner and are not visible to the patient. The computer that
processes the CT images is in a remote location.

What is involved with an MRI scan?

?During an MRI scan you simply lie very still on your back while the
pictures are being taken. The MRI table that you lie on is narrow and
the upper half of your body goes down the tunnel of the machine. The
tunnel is well lit and ventilated, you can see what is happening
through mirrors, and you can talk to the MRI technologist performing
the scan. If you like, you can watch a video on a screen at your feet
or listen to a favourite CD or radio station.?

Download this MRI for kids brochure here:

Your child is having an MRI scan
This leaflet explains about MRI scans and what to expect .

Getting ready for the test

?If your child is old enough to understand, explain what will happen.
Do this when you think the time is right.
Children do best when they are told what they will see, feel and hear
during the test. The room will be a little dark. The MRI scanner is
very big, but it will not hurt your child. Your child will lie on a
table, which will slide into the tunnel of the scanner. Your child
will hear loud clicks and other noises during the test. It may be a
little scary, but there will be people close by watching and making
sure everything is OK. Your child will have to lie very still during
the test.

It will be easier for your child to lie still during the test if you
let him or her stay up late the night before and not take a nap on the
day of the test.
Your child may bring a favorite stuffed animal or blanket to hold
during the test. Your child may bring music to listen to during the

Phoenix Children's Hospital


Information for Children and Parents

?The MRI is a very big machine with a tunnel inside. You lie on a
narrow bed. Then the bed moves into the tunnel. The machine takes
pictures of you when the bed is in the tunnel. The machine makes a
very loud noise, like a drum beating. After the MRI is over, the bed
moves out of the tunnel.?

The Children's Hospital of Winnipeg, Health Sciences Centre

Information for Children and Parents

?The CT is a big machine with a short tunnel, like a donut, that holds
a camera. You lie on a narrow bed. Then the bed moves into the tunnel.
The machine takes pictures of you as the bed moves into the tunnel. It
makes buzzing and clicking sounds. But it doesn't touch you. After the
CT Scan is over, the bed moves out of the tunnel.?

The Children's Hospital of Winnipeg, Health Sciences Centre

Search criteria:
how to explain a MRI to children
how to explain a CT Scan to children
CT Scanners

I hope this information helps you explain these tests to your child.

nkamom-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $5.00
everything went as well as can be expected.  The pictures and
explainations really helped.  Thanks

Subject: Re: Help my autistic son understand hospital trip
From: bobbie7-ga on 10 Jan 2005 13:24 PST
Hello again Nkamom, 

Please take a look at the following images. If they meet your needs,
let me know and I will post them as the official answer to your

Subject: Re: Help my autistic son understand hospital trip
From: bobbie7-ga on 12 Jan 2005 08:55 PST
Dear  Nkamom, 

I'm glad that everything went well.

Thank you for the five stars and tip!


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