Before Your Child's Visit

Preparation Before the Test

  • One to two days before the imaging study, a nurse will contact the patient’s family to go over the details of the exam, review any necessary preparation, and answer any of their questions or concerns. If the patient becomes ill, or if the family does not receive a call, please direct the patient’s family to call 412-692-9524. 
  • Sedation and anesthesia cases are not given exam times until a day or two before the exam to enable the Radiology Department to appropriately triage by age, urgency, and length of exam. A phone call will be made to the patient’s family a day or two before the exam to let them know what time the patient should arrive. 
  • Families should plan on being in the hospital for up to three to four hours, which includes preparation, exam time, and recovery. Transportation and sibling care should be planned accordingly. The Lemieux Sibling Center at Children’s Hospital’s Lawrenceville campus is available to help with the care of our patient’s siblings, ages 3 to 12 years old. Children who visit the Sibling Center must be potty-trained and may stay for up to two hours.
  • The following dietary restrictions must be followed by patients receiving sedation:
  • (Any substitutions or additions may result in exam rescheduling and must be discussed in advance with the sedation or anesthesia service.)
    • No solid food or milk products for eight hours before arrival time. 
    • No formula for six hours before arrival time, and no added cereal or additives. 
    • No breast milk for four hours before arrival time. 
    • The patient may have water, Pedialyte, apple juice, and/or clear Gatorade until two hours before arrival time. This hydration is important and encouraged. 
    • Nothing by mouth during the two hours prior to arrival time — not even a stick of gum, a mint, or a sip of water.

Arrival at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC:

  • The hospital’s main Lawrenceville campus is located at 4401 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA, 15224. Directions, public transit options, and parking information can be found online at
  • Getting to the Radiology Department: Upon arrival, patients should look for signs to the Grape Elevator, and take this elevator to the 2nd floor. Enter the Radiology Department and look for the greeter’s desk.
  • A patient’s family typically is allowed to accompany the patient through the initial evaluation leading up to sedation, and sometimes through the early stages of the sedation. This is at the discretion of the practitioner responsible for the sedation of the patient. If the family is uncomfortable being present for any part of the sedation or scan, they are not required to be present.
  • On the day of the exam, the patient is evaluated by our sedation or anesthesia service, and if the patient is ill or proper preparation was not performed, the test may need to be rescheduled. Scheduling exams when patients are at their healthiest is safest.
  • Alternatives to sedation offered to patients in our department include distraction techniques and comfort items such as movie goggles, music headphones, light shows, stress balls, stuffed animals, and blanket swaddles. Child Life specialists who specialize in radiology are available to patients and their families before, during, and after the exam and are our experts in providing age-appropriate, patient-specific support. Comfort items without metallic parts from home such as stuffed animals may be brought with a patient and screened by our technologists to be taken into the exam room.
  • Sometimes a patient’s ability to cooperate with an exam is different at the time of the exam than originally suspected, and the plan for using sedation and to what extent is often modified after discussion with the patient’s family on the day of the exam. We strive to use sedation only when necessary and after we are certain a patient will not be able to tolerate an entire exam using other techniques. Sometimes, a change in the sedation plan may result in rescheduling of the exam.
  • Sedation utilized in our department includes oral, IV, and inhaled agents. An IV and/or endotracheal tube may be required depending on the type of sedation and/or contrast required.
  • Sedation and MRI are not painful, and if an IV or endotracheal tube is needed, we perform these portions of the sedation process after sedation has already begun or using other comfort or distraction measures. Measures we utilize to help with IV insertion include Child Life specialists, music therapy, bubbles, books, games, sugar water pacifiers, breathing exercises, stress balls, stuffed animals, Buzzy Bee (a cold, vibrating distraction device), numbing cream and spray, and nitrous oxide gas, depending on the age of the patient and type of access required.
  • If a patient is also to have other upcoming invasive procedures, such as bloodwork or bone marrow biopsy, we can try to schedule it so that these procedures can be done during the same sedation as the MRI. Please make our schedulers aware of any upcoming testing the patient may have planned.