Original Article

Pediatric Radiology

, Volume 42, Issue 10, pp 1223-1228

First online:

The impact of preparation and support procedures for children with sickle cell disease undergoing MRI

  • Katherine R. CejdaAffiliated withChild Life Program, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital Email author 
  • , Matthew P. SmeltzerAffiliated withDepartment of Biostatistics, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
  • , Eileen N. HansburyAffiliated withBaylor International Hematology Center of Excellence and the Texas Children’s Center for Global Health
  • , Mary Elizabeth McCarvilleAffiliated withDepartment of Radiological Sciences, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
  • , Kathleen J. HeltonAffiliated withDepartment of Radiological Sciences, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
  • , Jane S. HankinsAffiliated withDepartment of Hematology, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

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Children with sickle cell disease (SCD) often undergo MRI studies to assess brain injury or to quantify hepatic iron. MRI requires the child to lie motionless for 30–60 min, thus sedation/anesthesia might be used to facilitate successful completion of exams, but this poses additional risks for SCD patients. To improve children’s ability to cope with MRI examinations and avoid sedation, our institution established preparation and support procedures (PSP).


To investigate the impact of PSP in reducing the need for sedation during MRI exams among children with SCD.

Materials and methods

Data on successful completion of MRI testing were compared among 5- to 12-year-olds who underwent brain MRI or liver R2*MRI with or without receiving PSP.


Seventy-one children with SCD (median age 9.85 years, range 5.57–12.99 years) underwent a brain MRI (n = 60) or liver R2*MRI (n = 11). Children who received PSP were more likely to complete an interpretable MRI exam than those who did not (30 of 33; 91% vs. 27 of 38; 71%, unadjusted OR = 4.1 (P = 0.04) and OR = 8.5 (P < 0.01) when adjusting for age.


PSP can help young children with SCD complete clinically interpretable, nonsedated MRI exams, avoiding the risks of sedation/anesthesia.


Sickle cell anemia Sedation MRI MRA Child life specialist Preparation and support procedure Children