MRI or Magnetic Resonance Imaging is a painless, noninvasive medical test that helps physicians diagnose and treat medical conditions. This type of imaging uses a powerful magnetic field, radio waves and a computer to produce detailed images of the inside of your body.
MR Imaging does not use radiation (x-ray). The scanner takes pictures of the inside of the body and joins them together in cross sectional views with the aid of a computer. The specialized scanner operated by a skilled MRI technician, and the expert interpretation of a radiologist combine together to diagnose and monitor treatment of various organs, tumors, lesions, heart problems and musculoskeletal injuries. The images from this study can be viewed on a computer monitor, printed on film or CD.
How to Prepare for an MRI
For your comfort you may wear your own clothing during the exam as long as there are no zippers, metal buttons or snaps. You may be given a gown to change into for the procedure. Because you are being scanned with a powerful magnet, metal objects such as eyeglasses or earrings and hearing aids should be taken off before the scan begins. Jewelry, wallets, handbags and watches should be stowed in lockers to prevent damage. If you have metal in any part of your body or eyes you should tell the technician before the scan begins.
You should always inform your technologist of any medication, allergies, recent sickness or history of kidney or thyroid problems before the scan begins. It is also import to let them know if you are breastfeeding, pregnant or of any possibility that you may be pregnant. At this time it is advised that pregnant woman should not have an MRI unless medically necessary, as the effects of the magnetic filed on the fetus are not well understood.
The closed MRI scanner looks like a large circular shaped tube with a table in front that you will lie upon. The tube part of the scanner is a circular magnet. Once you are positioned in the tube you will be asked to lie still while the images are being taken.
At Sun Radiology we also have an open scanner where the magnet is placed above the body. This open MRI is used for claustrophobic patients. Because the magnet strength is less for the open MRI, some scans cannot be performed on this scanner.
If you receive an IV contrast you will receive a small injection that is equal to a pin prick to administer the IV contrast. The MRI contrast, called gadolinium, does not contain iodine and is less likely to cause an allergic reaction. Please inform the technician if you have a history of reduced kidney (renal) function.
The Technologist will step out of the room to acquire the images but will be able to see and hear you. The scanner will start and you will hear a loud thumping and humming noise as the scanner takes the images. You must lie very still while the images are being taken.
If you are claustrophobic your physician may prescribe a mild sedative. If you will be using a sedative you must have transportation to and from the exam.
When you have completed the scan the technician will help you up from the table. You may return to your normal activities.
Your physician will receive a report from the radiologist on the results of the scan.