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Background: Modern imaging modalities allow for assessment of a wide array of medical conditions. Because it is difficult for young children to remain still during lengthy imaging studies, there is a need for sedation and general anesthesia (GA). A growing literature, however, suggests that there may be deleterious neurocognitive effects of sedation/GA in young children. As such, it is in our patients’ best interest to critically evaluate the use of sedation/GA.

Objective: To identify the roadblocks to obtaining clinical pediatric magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) exams without sedation/GA.

Materials and Methods: Participants included 63 parents/guardians of 5- to 9-year-old patients who underwent outpatient MRI; 54% of the patients were sedated (n=34) and 46% not sedated (n=29). Parents and nonsedated patients completed surveys to gauge their respective knowledge, preferences, and preparation for the MRI exam.

Results: The average scan duration was marginally significantly greater in sedated patients than nonsedated patients (p=0.06). Parents of sedated patients were significantly less likely to be interested in their child attempting a nonsedated scan (ppp=0.01) and practice in the mock scanner (p=0.01).

Conclusion: The roadblocks to nonsedated pediatric imaging include extended scan duration, parental preference, parental anxiety, and patient anxiety. These roadblocks may be overcome by decreasing scan duration, increasing parental education, and increasing child preparation.