Anesthetic exposure in children may impact long-term neurocognitive outcomes. Therefore, minimizing pediatric MRI scan time in children under anesthesia and the associated anesthetic exposure is necessary.


The purpose of this study was to evaluate pediatric MRI scan time as a predictor of total propofol dose, considering imaging and clinical characteristics as covariates.


Electronic health records were retrospectively searched to identify MRI examinations performed from 2016 to 2019 in patients 0-18 years old who received propofol anesthetic. Brain; brain and spine; brain and abdomen; and brain, head, and neck MRI examinations were included. Demographic, clinical, and imaging data were extracted for each examination, including anesthesia maintenance phase time, MRI scan time, and normalized propofol dose. MRI scan time and propofol dose were compared between groups using a t test. A multiple linear regression with backward selection (threshold, p < .05) was used to evaluate MRI scan time as a predictor of total propofol dose, adjusting for sex, age, time between scan and study end, body part, American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) classification, diagnosis, magnet strength, and IV contrast medium administration as covariates.


A total of 501 examinations performed in 426 patients (172 girls, 254 boys; mean age, 6.55 ± 4.59 [SD] years) were included. Single body part examinations were shorter than multiple body part examinations (mean, 52.7 ± 18.4 vs 89.3 ± 26.4 minutes) and required less propofol (mean, 17.7 ± 5.7 vs 26.1 ± 7.7 mg/kg; all p < .001). Among single body part examinations, a higher ASA classification, oncologic diagnosis, 1.5-T magnet, and IV contrast medium administration were associated with longer MRI scan times (all p ≤ .009) and higher propofol exposure (all p ≤ .005). In multivariable analysis, greater propofol exposure was predicted by MRI scan time (mean dose per minute of examination, 0.178 mg/kg; 95% CI, 0.155-0.200; p < .001), multiple body part examination (p = .04), and IV contrast medium administration (p = .048); lower exposure was predicted by 3-T magnet (p = .04).


Anesthetic exposure during pediatric MRI can be quantified and predicted based on imaging and clinical variables.

Clinical Impact

This study serves as a valuable baseline for future efforts to reduce anesthetic doses and scan times in pediatric MRI.

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