MAGNETIC RESONANCE IMAGING (MRI)
Magnetic Resonance Imaging provides 3D anatomical and pathological pictures that help evaluate a wide range of conditions in the human body. Such images cannot be obtained via X-Ray or CT scan. MRI uses a strong magnetic field and radio frequency pulses to produce high-resolution pictures. The device and technique allow for viewing inside the muscle, joints, ligaments, tendons, cartilage, and internal organs.
MRI without contrast
The patient cannot have a pacemaker or defibrillator. It is not advisable to wear jewelry, with the exception of a wedding ring. It is further advised to wear clothing that is free of metal (e.g. zippers, snaps, etc.) No patient preparation is required.
MRI with contrast
The patient cannot have a pacemaker or defibrillator. The patient must be well-hydrated (water only). If patient is over 55, is diabetic, or has history of renal failure, labs must be obtained within 30 days of exam date. Please do not wear jewelry, with the exception of a wedding ring. Please wear clothing that is free of metal (e.g. zippers, snaps, etc.)
For your safety, a physician order is needed to schedule an MRI scan.
MRI Exam procedure
First, it is recommended to come 15 minutes earlier to your appointment, as it will give you ample time to fill out all the paperwork, if required. During an MRI scan, the first step is to remove all the metallic objects from the patient’s body. In case you have any device or metallic object, it is advisable to let the MRI technologist know about it. The reason is because an MRI scan uses a magnet that will be affected by the metallic objects. Then, in order to have the most accurate scan, the patient is asked to lie down in a very still manner inside a magnetic machine that has closed environment. If you are claustrophobic and would need a mild sedative to be in an enclosed space, it is advisable to consult your situation with your doctor.
In an MRI scan, it is important for the patient to be relaxed and to breathe normally throughout the procedure. In addition, throughout the test, the patient would be in contact with the MRI technologist. When the scanning process starts, the patient might hear clicking noises that are loud and repetitive. At times, to get better and clearer images, a dye contrast might be injected. There is no specific time that an MRI scan takes as it depends on which part of the body is being scrutinized, but it is usually between 30 to 60 minutes.
How does the patient receive the results?
Once the MRI scan is done, visual images of the body area that was scanned are produced by the computer. Either these visual images are transferred to a CD, or a hard copy is produced. After this, the images are then observed and interpreted by a radiologist who writes a result report that is given to the physician who requested the MRI scan. The report is sent to the doctor. After the scan, you can resume your daily activities unless you are on a sedative, and in this case, you would be advised to rest.
Benefits of MRI
The numerous benefits of MRI render this technique as one the best diagnosing exams. An advantage of MRI is that, unlike X-rays, the patient is not bombarded with radiation. Without making any incision in the patient’s body, medical professionals can get a detailed picture of the patient’s internal body area that is under observation. This helps in diagnosing and having a better understanding of the problem itself. Furthermore, since the medical professionals have a detailed picture of the patient’s interior, they can perform better surgery. MRI is painless and since it does not harm the patient, there is no recovery period.