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Jolene’s story: a very special MRI scan

A group of four people smile at the camera. The man on the left is wearing red scrubs. A small girl is being held by her father and her mother is smiling to the right of the picture.
19 October 2023

This is Jolene – a fun loving three-year-old who’s just done something rather special.

It’s nothing new for our Radiology team to carry out an MRI scan, but it is exceptionally unusual for a very young child to not require a general anaesthetic (GA) because they have to be so still during the scan. Jolene managed it brilliantly without – and had just a little help from her Radiographer, Boby and her mum’s calming hand.

Jolene’s mum, Millie said: “During the scan I was able to have my hand on Jolene’s foot, which I think really helped, as it was noisy and when I noticed her breathing speed up I squeezed her foot and she calmed again.”

An MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) is a type of scan that uses strong magnetic fields and radio frequency waves to produce detailed images of the inside of the body. Patients lie on a big table, which then slides inside a large magnetic tube, for the scan.

There are lots of benefits for carrying out an MRI scan without GA. It’s less invasive for the patient, and there was no need for Jolene to not eat (fast) beforehand. There’s also less chance of their being any medical complications, and Jolene was able to leave sooner than usual after the scan too.

Boby, a Radiographer at Sheffield Children’s said: “This is the first time in my career that a three-year-old child stayed still for the entire study. The credit should go to the parents. The way they prepared Jolene for the scan and the importance of staying still while having the MRI was key. Jolene may not have been able to understand exactly why it was important, but I can say for sure that she believed her parents.”

Jolene came to Sheffield Children’s with her mum and dad on the day of the scan, and she was already well prepared.

Millie said: “We discussed what might happen multiple times before scan day and found some videos on YouTube which explained the process. We were able to iron out all her worries before we arrived on the day. She did have a mini meltdown right before we went into the room, but quickly composed herself when we reminded her what would happen.

“We met the lovely Radiographer, Boby – the whole team was lovely! – who talked us through what would happen and asked Jolene to choose a movie to watch during the scan. They settled Jolene into the scanner and gave us all ear defenders to wear. The scan lasted about 25 minutes and Jolene was so relaxed she didn’t even realise it had finished until she was moved back out of the tunnel!”

Congratulations Jolene! 

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