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MRI bedtime scan with melatonin [patient information leaflet]

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Abstract

Your Consultant has referred your child for an MRI Bedtime scan. This will take place in the imaging department (also known as Radiology or X-Ray department) at the Royal Hospital for Children. Please refer to your appointment letter for guidance on which scanner to attend.

What is an MRI scan? 

An MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scan uses giant magnets inside a special machine that looks like a doughnut to take pictures of the inside of the body. Your child will lie on a comfortable bed which slides into the middle of the doughnut to take the pictures. MRI does not use any X-Rays to take the pictures and does not have any side effects.

What is an MRI Bedtime Scan?

An MRI Bedtime scan is a technique used on babies and young children to take images without the need for a General Anaesthetic or sedation. If a child is hungry and very tired, they are likely to settle after a feed and can sleep through the noise of the MRI scanner. As older babies and toddlers are usually at their most tired and have the deepest sleep at bedtime, we find this is the best time.

What is Melatonin?

Melatonin is a hormone associated with sleep that is produced naturally in the brain.

As older babies and children tend to sleep less throughout the day, and are more aware of their surroundings, it may be harder for them to fall into a deeper sleep for a successful scan. We can therefore give your child a dose of Melatonin when they attend for the scan, which will make their brain think it is time to go to sleep. Our Radiologist can prescribe Melatonin to babies and children over 6 months, which we will give them orally (by mouth) in a small syringe. This is usually around 40 minutes before your child's feed and scan time.

Please note: Melatonin will not put your child to sleep. It is not a sedative and will only aid them in falling asleep and staying asleep. There is no known side effects, although some children may experience an altered sleep pattern on the evening after their scan.

What do I need to think about before coming for the scan?

Please refer to the leaflet for information about preparing for the scan, special instructions for eating and drinking and what to wear, and what will happen at your appointment.

Editorial Information

Last reviewed: 01 May 2021

Next review: 31 May 2023

Author(s): Radiology Department, RHCG

Version: 1