MRI Details

What is an MRI?

An MRI, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, is used in radiology to develop pictures of the body and it’s anatomy. Using magnetic fields in MRI scanners, radio waves are able to generate images of inside the body for experts to view the organs. 

The pictures from an MRI scan are very detailed and allow doctors to get an inside look to better diagnose patients. They are often used to see where you are in a specific stage of a disease or as a follow up to how a patient has responded to a treatment. 

Doctors use MRIs for brain injuries, MS, strokes, heart disease, cancer, bone infections and many other reasons. An MRI can also be used to check the general health of organs such as the kidney, liver, prostate and ovaries. If you are experiencing pain in your joints or specific areas of your body, the doctor may order a MRI to check on the causes of this pain.

MRI vs Xray

MRI scans are often seen as an advanced choice for imaging depending on the particular pathology they are searching for. In hospital and clinic settings, MRI’s are used for medical diagnosis and to identify the presence of disease. 

MRI’s do not expose the body to radiation, however there are some risks and discomfort associated with an MRI scan. The patient will experience a louder, longer scan and usually need to enter a tube in order to complete the MRI. If you do not do well in enclosed spaces or with loud noises, don’t be afraid to let your doctor know. They have special procedures and also medications to relax you during the test that can help!

Preparing for an MRI

Before your MRI, your MRI tech will ask you a series of questions and help you prepare for the test. You should have an understanding of your history and provide them information about any recent health problems, surgeries, if you are pregnant and if you have any allergies or have asthma.

The magnetic machine used for the MRI will attract metal, so you are not allowed to wear any metal during your scan. This means you should remove all piercings and inform your MRI tech if you have any metal inside your body. Even some tattoos may contain metal, so talking to your MRI tech about anything on your body that can potentially affect the results is important.

Depending on the type of study, the technologist may ask you to remove jewelry, bras with underwires, eyeglasses, watches, dentures, keys and anything in your pocket such as coins and cell phone.

What to Expect During Your MRI

Sometimes, during your MRI you will get a contrast dye into an arm or hand vein. This dye will help the doctor more clearly see inside your body. Gadolinium is the dye that is often used for this.

Whatever body part is being imaged must be in the center of the machine. Using several different components, the MRI machine will produce images from a signal emitted by the hydrogen molecules in your body. While in the MRI machine, a computer will take the signal and use it to create pictures for the doctors to review. Each picture shows a small portion of your body. There will be some loud noises during the test, including thumping noises. The noise is necessary to produce the signal needed for the MRI. Most patients use earplugs or headphones to listen to music during the test.

Since it is possible for the MRI to stimulate nerves in your body, you may feel a twitching sensation during the test. If this occurs, please alert the MRI tech. The test usually takes between 20 and 40 minutes.

What Happens After an MRI

Typically, you can go home and go about your normal day after your MRI test. If you were sedated for any reason, you will need someone to drive you home. After your scan is complete, the radiologist will review the results and send a report to your doctor. You will go for a follow up with your doctor to talk over your MRI results.

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