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Having a scan to find out the cause of cerebral palsy

Having a scan to find out the cause of cerebral palsy

Some children are offered an MRI scan, which gives a detailed view of the brain. An MRI scan should be offered if doctors need to look more closely at your child's brain, to see which parts are affected, help to work out the cause of their cerebral palsy or rule out some other conditions.

Not all children are offered an MRI scan. It won't usually be needed if the cause of your child's cerebral palsy is clear from other tests and their medical history.

The doctor should explain why they are advising an MRI scan and talk to you about the best time to do it. They should listen to your views about this. If your child is under 2 they may advise waiting, because it can be difficult to see any changes in the brain before this. It can also be hard for a young child to lie still during an MRI, so they would usually need a general anaesthetic or sedation.

Sometimes it isn't possible to identify a cause of cerebral palsy, even after a scan. Your care team should explain if this is the case for your child.

Questions you may want to ask

  • Does my child need an MRI scan?

  • Can you explain why you are offering an MRI scan?

  • What does an MRI scan involve?

  • What might it show? What if it doesn't show anything?

  • When we will get the results of the MRI?

  • Information Standard