What is an MRI?

 

MAGNETIC RESONANCE IMAGING (MRI)

What is an MRI? 

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a medical imaging procedure used to visualize detailed internal organs and tissues. This exam allows the radiologist to visualize and evaluate structures that may not be visualized as well in other modalities. MRI is the best procedure for evaluating neuro, musckuloskeletal, and body pathology. Unlike other imaging modalities MRI doesn’t use ionizing radiation; therefore it is generally a safe procedure.MRI uses a strong magnetic field along with radio waves. By using both the magnetic field and radio waves, a rotating magnetic field is produced and detected by the MR scanner. Once detected this information is stored as an image. These images provide good contrast between the soft tissues of the body and help aid the radiologist in distinguishing normal healthy anatomy for that which is pathologic. According on what the doctor needs to visualize, a contrast agent may be used. This contrast is given intravenously (IV) and helps to see various structures, such as blood vessels, tumors, infection or inflammation more clearly.

Prep: 

No special prep is needed prior to the exam. Please take your medications, eat and drink as you normally would. No special clothing is required; we just ask that you wear loose clothing without zippers or any other metal.  A safety screening form will be provided for you to complete to the best of your knowledge.We ask that you remove all other items from your body as well, such as:

  • Jewelry
  • Watches
  • Glasses
  • Wallet
  • Cell phone
  • Keys
  • All other metallic objects

Important Precautions:

MRI can be a safe and non-invasive exam as long as you are aware of MR contraindications and you make the tech aware of any problems or questions you may have. As previously mentioned, the MR scanner works with a combination of radio waves and a strong magnet so be sure to inform us if you have any of the following contraindications:

  • Aneurysm clip
  • Cardiac pacemaker
  • Implanted cardioverter defibrillator (ICD)
  • Electronic implant or device
  • Hearing aid
  • Magnetically-activated implant or device
  • Spinal cord stimulator
  • Neurostimulater
  • Cochlear implant or implanted hearing aid
  • Insulin or infusion pump
  • Artificial or prosthetic limb
  • Any type of prosthesis or implant
  • Implanted drug infusion device
  • Any metallic fragment or foreign body
  • Any external or internal metallic object

If you have had ANY prior surgery or injury involving metal please tell the MR tech before entering the MR room.  Anything metallic on or in you can degrade the quality of the images.  Also, if placed in the magnetic field (MR room) these metallic substances can cause discomfort or even injury.

What to expect:

  • After you have removed all metal objects, used the restroom and made the MR tech aware on anything implanted the tech will then lead you to the MR room where you will be positioned on the MR table. This table slides in and out of the MR bore and allows us to position you exactly where we need you.
  • With most of our exams only half of your body will be in the MR scanner.
  • For the best MRI results, it is very important that you hold as still and possible while the scanner is making noise.
  • When you hear these noises that is when the scanner is actually acquiring images. These noises consist of rapid banging and thump noises from inside the MR scanner. These noises are normal, but can be very loud. Earplug will be provided for you to help minimize the noise.
  • At all times during the exam you will be able to talk to the MR tech. While scanning the noise may make this more difficult but you will have a “call” button in case of emergencies. The tech can pause the exam on almost all scans.
  • With some examinations you may be asked to hold your breath. This is very important for high quality images. Any movement can cause blurring of the images.
  • With the exception of breath hold images, we ask that you breathe normally and try your best not to move or cough.
  • The noises are repetitive and you may think the scan is finished, but we ask that you maintain your position for the entire exam. Most exams take between 30-45 mins.

What if I am claustrophobic?

Our GE open flare short bore magnets decrease claustrophobia because at least part of your body is out of the machine at all times. The scanner is also open on both ends, so you are never closed in. The scanner is equipped with lights inside, fans and angled mirrors to help see out. We will provide a wash cloth to place over your eyes, as this my ease the anxiety of being placed in the scanner. 

When will I be told the results?

The radiologist will review you images and we will send a report to your physician within 24-48 hours. Please follow up with your physician to get your MRI results.