What to expect with your MRI exam.
Although each session is uniquely tailored to your specific reasons for having the exam, the MRI procedure is basically the same–you simply lie on your back on the platform and remain as still as possible. The scanner obtains different viewing angles of the targeted area, while you remain in one position.
When you are ready for the examination, the technologist will help you achieve the appropriate position. To obtain the correct view of the targeted area, there are special plastic support coils for your knee, neck and other areas that help you stay still and in the recommended position.
The MRI unit itself is a long, tube-like apparatus that is open at both ends. As with any small space, some people may feel slightly cramped during their examination. To help alleviate this feeling, patients can use our special headphones, which allow them to listen to relaxing music, as well as to hear the technologist’s instructions throughout the examination.
During the examination, you will notice a dull knocking sound. This is the MRI machine as it acquires the images. The headphones help to block out the sound, while allowing the technologist to stay in contact with you at all times to answer any questions and to offer any necessary instructions.
Sessions last from 15 to 60 minutes depending on the type of exam and the area of the body being scanned. During the proceedings the technologist will be outside the examination room viewing the MRI images on a computer screen to ensure that the appropriate angles and views are being achieved. The technologist can see you through a window and is in constant communication with you, making sure you are comfortable and relaxed. When all the appropriate images have been obtained, your session is over and you can resume your daily activities without delay.
A full report of your results will be available to your prescribing physician within three to five business days. You can then discuss the results with your physician and review any necessary treatment options.
What is MRI?
MRI is short for Magnetic Resonance Imaging. (An MRA [Magnetic Resonance Angiography] is a kind of MRI.) MRI is an advanced technology that lets your doctor see internal organs, blood vessels, muscles, joints, tumors, areas of infection, and more – without x-rays, surgery, or pain. MRI is very safe; in fact, it makes use of natural forces and has no known harmful effects. It’s important to know that MRI will not expose you to any radiation.
How does the MRI machine work?
The MRI machine creates a magnetic field, sends radio waves through your body, and then measures the response with a computer. This creates an image or picture of the inside of your body that is much clearer than can be obtained with most other methods.
How is MRI used in diagnosis?
MRI is the diagnostic imaging tool of choice for evaluation of the brain and spinal cord. Because it provides excellent soft tissue contrast without ionizing radiation, MRI is exceptionally useful for evaluating brain tumors of all kinds, multiple sclerosis and other white matter diseases, brain infections, aneurysms, and vascular malformations. MRI is also valuable in examining the orbital structures, pituitary gland, and the soft tissue structures of the neck.
Because MRI gives such clear pictures of soft-tissue structures near and around bones, it is the most sensitive exam for evaluating spinal and joint problems. MRI is widely used to diagnose sports-related injuries, especially those affecting the knee, shoulder, hip, elbow and wrist. The images allow physicians to see even the smallest tears and injuries to ligaments, tendons and muscles. MRI also excels in the diagnosis of disc herniation and spinal stenosis.
Organs of the abdomen, including the liver, kidneys, spleen, and pancreas, can also be examined in high detail with MRI, enabling the diagnosis of tumors and other disorders. MRI is growing in popularity as an adjunct to traditional x-ray mammography in the early diagnosis of breast cancer. Because no radiation exposure is involved, MRI is often the preferred diagnostic tool for examination of the male and female reproductive systems, pelvis, hips and urinary bladder.
Where are MRI’s given?
MRI exams can be done at hospitals. But they can also be done at various independent facilities that perform diagnostic imaging such as Healthview Imaging.
How do you prepare for your MRI examination?
Examinations at Healthview Imaging are comfortable, convenient and stress-free experiences. In most cases, you can just stick with your normal, everyday routine – no special preparation is needed. You can eat and drink your usual diet, work, or play sports (unless you have an injury!) – and take any prescription medications you need. However, there may be some circumstances in which you’ll be given specific instructions to follow before the exam. These will be given to you by your doctor, or by his/her representative. Our staff will also provide you with the appropriate preparatory information for your examination when you book your appointment.
Are there any restrictions with the exam?
Yes – because the MRI machine uses a strong magnetic field, which will move objects made with iron or steel, let your doctor know if you have:
- A pacemaker
- Aneurysm clips
- Cochlear implants
- A neuro-stimulator (Tens-unit)
- Metal implants
- Steel surgical staples or clips
- An implanted drug infusion device
- Any implant made partially or wholly of iron or steel
- Also, if you’re pregnant, let the doctor know.
Even metal objects not made of iron or steel can interfere with the exam – so don’t bring any of the following into the examination room (a secure place to store your valuables will be provided):
- Dentures or partial plates
- Hearing aids
Magnetic waves can also erase the code on bank cards and credit cards, so don’t bring any to your exam. Last of all, you may be asked to change into a patient gown.
How long does the scan take?
The exam can last from 30 minutes to usually no more than an hour.
May I bring someone to the exam with me?
Yes, although they will likely have to wait in a waiting room while the scan is being done. However, while you’re having your scan done, you can communicate with the technologist at any time through an intercom system.
Will I feel any different after the exam?
Well, you may feel very well rested since you’ve just been lying on a table and doing absolutely nothing! (In fact, some people even fall asleep during the exam.) Other than that, you’ll feel perfectly normal and can go back to your everyday activities. If you have further questions about your MRI exam, the MRI technologist or your doctor will be glad to answer them.