Children’s Hospital patients benefit from MRI-compatible goggles

Children can now watch their favorite movies during the procedure.

An 8-year-old boy can now watch “Despicable Me” while technicians capture images of his brain tumor during a two and a half hour MRI, thanks to new MRI-compatible video goggles at the MU Women's and Children’s Hospital.

“(The goggles) are another tool in the tool chest we can use,” Keri Simon, executive director of the Women’s and Children’s Hospital, said at a ribbon cutting ceremony Wednesday.

The goggles rest on the patient’s head, no strap is needed, during the procedure, which can take 30-45 minutes on average, and a movie is displayed as if the viewer is in a theater. The accompanying headphones are sound-proof so the noise of the MRI machine cannot be heard while the movie is playing.

MRI technicians also have the capability to talk to patients while the procedure is underway. The movie pauses and an image of the lab technician appears on the screen so the patient can see as well as hear the technician. There is also a microphone attached to the headphones so the patient can respond back to the technician if he or she needs to.

The newly acquired technology uses fiber optic cables that do not interfere with the machine and allow patients to watch their favorite movies during their MRI.

Carroll King, a pediatric critical care doctor, said the goggles provide a better solution to help patients relax during an MRI. Before the goggles were introduced, the only method to keep them completely relaxed was sedation.

“We’re sedating less,” she said. “(With the goggles) we’re trying to make it as comfortable as possible (for the patients) while they’re still awake.”

Sedating a child for an MRI takes all day, King said. The patient must arrive at the hospital in the early morning to prepare for the treatment and is typically released in the early afternoon.

The goggles also make giving MRIs easier for the lab technicians. In the past when patients were awake, they had to be given breaks during the procedure, King said. But now, with the video goggles, patients can stay awake and get through the whole process in one sitting.

“They get so engrossed in the movie, we don’t have to give them breaks anymore,” she said.

The goggles, which cost $44,000 for one pair, were purchased with the help of the central Missouri chapter of Credit Unions for Kids, a collaboration of credit unions that fundraise to benefit Children’s Miracle Network hospitals.

“(Credit Unions for Kids) has always helped out the Children’s Miracle Network,” said Loretta Roney, Highway Alliance Credit Union president. “When we found out there was a need (for the goggles) we knew we could ban together and help.”

Credit Unions for Kids began fundraising efforts in 2011. Roney, who was then-chairman of the chapter, said efforts took about a year to generate enough money to buy the goggles.

The organization held candy and bake sales, encouraged members to donate online and in person and distributed $1 donation slips to local restaurants.

“As mothers and grandparents of children, it was great to help (the Children’s Hospital) out,” Roney said.

There are no current plans to acquire more goggles, King said. The hospital only has one MRI machine so one pair of goggles is all that is needed.

“As long as they don’t break, we won’t need more,” King said.

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