The BMJ Awards 2017: ImagingBMJ 2017; 356 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.j1239 (Published 13 March 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;356:j1239
- Nigel Hawkes, freelance journalist, London, UK
Play specialist supported MRI
Young children who need magnetic resonance imaging present a problem to the imaging team. “An MRI scanner is claustrophobic and very noisy,” says Irene O’Donnell, play services manager at University College London Hospital. “The number of paediatric MRIs has been rising, and so were the number of children who couldn’t complete them, meaning that they had to be scanned again under general anaesthetic. This causes distress to the children and pressure on anaesthesia and scanning lists, as well as taking up paediatric day care beds.”
A trial using a play specialist one day a week to help children by explaining the procedure through the medium of play proved successful. Out of 90 patients aged between 3 and 13 years who were supported by the play specialist, 86 completed the scan successfully. Nine had been booked for general anaesthesia but didn’t need it, saving £8000 (€9000; $10 000).
One successful technique is to show the children a scale model of the scanner, complete with a moving table and accompanied by the noise it makes. “It’s a really valuable tool. It removes fear of the unknown and children can practise with a Playmobil figure,” she says. “Sometimes we take them to visit the scanner, and we now have a DVD player that will work inside the scanner so they can watch a video during the procedure—a fantastic resource for a 5 year old who might have to have a scan lasting 45 minutes.”
Play specialists now work two days a week in the department, achieving a scan success rate of 94%. Waiting times are shorter and the cost of …