MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) uses powerful magnetic and radio waves with the help of a computer to produce detailed diagnostic images of organs and structures inside the body. MRI may give more detailed information than can be seen with x-ray, ultrasound or CT scan. It is a valuable tool for the diagnosis of disease conditions of the brain, spine, heart and blood vessels, breasts, bones, joints and internal organs.
How do I prepare for an MRI
MRI does not use ionizing radiation (x-rays). It uses magnetic waves and one is required to remove all metallic objects and accessories she or he may be wearing prior to the examination. These include items such as hairpins, jewelry, eyeglasses, belts, hearing aids, wigs underwire bras.
You are required to notify the MRI technologist if you have:
- Any prosthetic joints or limbs like hip or knee
- Artificial heart valves or cardiac pacemaker
- Intra-uterine device
- Any metal plates, pins or screws
- Tattoos or permanent make up
- Bullet or shrapnel in your body
- If you are pregnant or suspect you might be pregnant
What to expect during an MRI examination
An MRI exam takes between 20-45 minutes on average. Very detailed MRI exams may take longer. To eliminate possible MRI safety issues, you will be asked to change into a hospital gown. A locker will be provided to secure your belongings. Once you have changed into a hospital gown, you lie down on a movable table (gantry) that slides into the opening of the MRI tube.
The MRI technologists sits in an adjacent room and monitors you throughout the procedure. You are required to stay still for most of the procedure. If for any reason you are not able to stay still, you may be given medicine to help you feel sleepy or less anxious.
You will hear loud tapping or thumping during the exam but at VitalRay Medical Imaging, you will receive earphones to alleviate this.
In some cases, a contrast material may be administered through an intravenous (IV) line in your arm. The contrast is used to enhance the appearance of certain details in the images. Once the procedure is complete, you may resume your usual activities immediately.
A radiologist will analyze the MRI images and produce a report which you can discuss with your doctor.