What is MRI?
MRI stands for magnetic resonance imaging. An MRI offers a safe and efficient method for medical diagnosis of many conditions, without the use of harmful x-rays. In many cases, MRI can lead to early detection and treatment of disease without surgery or biopsy. It is a non-invasive method of examining the soft tissue of the body including organs, muscles and tendons.
Is MRI safe?
The strength of the magnetic field and the frequency of the radio waves have no known harmful effects. There are some patients who may not be able to have an MRI test due to certain pacemakers or other metallic objects in the body. However, not all metallic or implanted devices prevent you from having an MRI. Consult your doctor or HealthEast Radiology for clarification.
Does my doctor need to refer me for an MRI?
In order to perform the study we need a referral from your physician. Your doctor will provide us with the necessary information to perform the most accurate study.
How do I prepare for an MRI scan?
Generally, you will not have any restrictions on eating or drinking before your scan. Certain scans of the abdomen or pelvis might have restrictions. We have lockers and locking dressing rooms for your personal belongings, clothing, jewelry and other metallic items. Jewelry and other metallic items should be kept to a minimum because they might interfere with the scan. Clothing with zippers, hooks and snaps will need to be removed. We have gowns and scrubs for you to change into. If you prefer, you may wear your own sweats, shorts or other loose clothing.
What is magnetic resonance angiography (MRA)?
This is a way to look at the blood vessels in the neck and brain and evaluate the characteristics of blood flow. In the neck, areas of irregularity or narrowing in the carotid arteries can be associated with symptoms of temporary blindness, weakness of the extremities, amnesia or loss of speech. Within the brain, MRA can be used to screen for the presence of vascular malformation, aneurysm and vasculitis.
What happens during an MRI scan?
You will be asked to lie down on the scanning table, usually on your back. We will make you comfortable with the aid of pillows, blankets and sponges. An MRI coil is placed around the part of the body to be scanned. This acts as an antenna directing the magnetic energy to that area. You will be asked to lie still for the duration of the scan, which will be approximately 30 minutes. You will hear a faint knocking sound while the system is scanning.
What do I need to tell the technologist before the scan?
Advise the technologist of any pacemaker, or other implanted devices in your body. Also make the technologist aware of any previous surgeries, including heart surgery for pacemaker or other implanted devices, brain surgery for aneurysm clips, back surgery, cochlear implants, pregnancy, history of working with metal, or in the metal trades.
Are there any people who cannot or should not have an MRI?
MRI poses no danger to the majority of patients. Certain medical conditions will prevent someone from having an MRI. The strong magnetic field can cause disruption to internally placed devices such as pacemakers, heart valves and aneurysm clips.
Can my child have an MRI?
Yes. A parent may stay in the scan room with the child, and hold their hand during the scan. This is a great way to relieve any apprehension the child or the parent may have about the procedure.
May I have an MRI exam when I am pregnant or breastfeeding?
While an MRI scan has no known side effects, it is not recommended for pregnant women unless it is medically indicated. If you are breastfeeding and have contrast as part of your exam, please suspend nursing for 24 hours after the exam.
Why is the scanner so noisy?
The scanner works with strong magnetic fields, which builds up energy. The energy is released as loud knocking sounds. Earplugs are available. We provide an assortment of music to help you relax. You are welcome to bring your own CD or cassette. There is a two-way intercom providing communication between you and the technologist.
How is MRI different from a CT or an x-ray?
Unlike x-ray exams, MRI does not use ionizing (x-ray) radiation. Instead, MRI creates high-quality images through the combination of a strong magnetic field and radio waves. MRI can detect certain diseases much earlier than other medical imaging techniques can, making it the diagnostic tool of choice for many physicians.
What body parts can the MRI scanner evaluate?
Physicians use the MRI scanner to examine one part of the body at a time. The scanner can take pictures of the head, neck, back, abdomen, pelvis, shoulder, elbow, knee, ankle, foot, blood vessels and more.
How long does the exam take?
Exams take approximately 25 minutes or more depending on the body part being scanned. Please feel free to bring along your favorite tape or CD to help you relax during the exam.
Why is it so important to remove any metallic objects before I enter the scanning room?
You'll need to remove all metal objects for safety reasons and because they cause artifacts to appear on the MRI image.
Will there be a problem if I have had surgery in which metal has been implanted?
As a general rule, no. However, please be sure to inform your technologist of any prior surgeries before your exam. Patients with a pacemaker or certain types of aneurysm clips should not have an MRI.
What does the scanner look like?
The scanner is wide open on both ends, and well-lit and ventilated throughout. It also has a nurse call button and two-way intercom system so that you can communicate with the technologist at all times.
Is there any risk?
MRI is very safe. There are no health risks associated with the magnetic field or the radio waves used by the machine nor have any side effects been reported.