Evaluation of distraction techniques for patients aged 4–10 years undergoing magnetic resonance imaging examinations

Rachel Flattley, Mark Widdowfield

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The main aim of the review is to identify potentially effective distraction techniques for the 4 to 10 age range whilst reducing the need for sedation. Objectives also included assessment of the applicability of distraction for the 4–10 age range and, where appropriate, to identify potential cost implications and assess the interventions’ impact on image quality.

Key findings
A priori search terms, inclusion and exclusion criteria were developed and two independent reviewers were employed to assess study quality. Five studies fitted the criteria of the systematic search strategy. The studies implemented a range of distraction and preparatory techniques resulting in paediatric patients being able to complete an MRI scan to a diagnostic level in the 4 to 10-year-old age category with a sedation rate of 5–20%. All interventions included in the review required time with the patient prior to the scan.

There are a range of efficacious techniques that can be employed to reduce the sedation rates in children aged 4–10 years, whilst allowing diagnostic images to be acquired. The introduction of play and the engagement with the patient prior to the scan appear to be indicators of intervention effectiveness. The efficacy of these interventions does not appear to be linked with proprietary equipment.

Implications for practice
Age appropriate interventions are necessary for children of different ages and these distraction interventions may be implemented within departments, for little cost, with notable benefits in terms of sedation.
Original languageEnglish
Early online date9 Jul 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 9 Jul 2020


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