Magnetic resonance imaging // Frequently asked questions
1. | What is magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)?
Magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, is a safe diagnostic test that provides a clearer picture of the interior of the body than many other diagnostic tests. It does not use x-rays. An MRI scan requires a specialized team that uses a powerful constant magnetic field, radio frequency, and a powerful computer to create a clear image of the internal structures of the body.
2. | What is MRI used for
MRI has become the procedure of choice for the diagnosis of a large number of potential problems in different parts of the body. In general, MR creates images that can show the differences between healthy and diseased tissues. Doctors use MRI to examine the brain, spine, joints (e.g., knee, shoulder, wrist and ankle), abdomen, pelvis, chest, blood vessels, heart, and other body parts.
3. | Is MRI safe?
MRI has proven to be very safe. In general, the procedure does not produce any pain and causes no short or long-term damage in the tissues of any kind.
4. | Do I need any preparation?
There is no special preparation for an MRI scan. There're no restrictions on food or liquids and you shall continue to take any medications prescribed by your doctor unless otherwise indicated.
You're not allowed to wear metal elements during the can, so it would be better to leave watches, jewelry or anything metallic at home. Even some cosmetics can contain small amounts of metals, so it is best to not wear makeup at all.
The elements that should be left by patients at the changer before entering the room of MRI include:
- Wallet, money clip, credit cards, cards with magnetic stripes
- Electronic devices such as mobile phones or pagers
- Rings or metal watches
- Pens, clips, keys, coins
- Hair ornaments
- Any piece of clothing that has metal buttons, snaps, hooks, rings, or metallic threads
- Shoes, belt buckles, safety pins
Examples of items or things that can create a hazard to your health during a MRI examination are:
- Automatic Implanted Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD)
- Neuro Stimulator
- Aneurysm clip
- Metallic implant
- Implanted drug pump
- Bullets or Buckshot
- Dental prosthesis with a magnetic socket
- Other implants that use magnets
- Medication (i.e., transdermal patch) patch containing a metal sheet
Important notice: If you are or suspect to be pregnant, you should state it to your doctor and the radiologist or MRI technician in the before starting the MRI procedure. Before going into the examination room, any friend or family member authorized to accompany you will be asked questions to make sure that he or she can enter the MRI room and he or she will also have to remove every metallic objects.
5. | How is the MRI examination done?
The MRI test is performed in a special room. You will be escorted into the room by a member of the staff of the facility and you will be asked to lie comfortably on a quilted table , which slides gently into the scanner.
It may be necessary to use headphones to protect the patient's hearing, because when the scanner is working, it can produce loud noises. These noises are normal and you should not worry about them.
For some MRI scans, an agent called gadolinium contrast might be injected into a vein to help us get a clearer picture of the area under review. Usually this is done through a small needle placed in a vein in the arm or hand. Unlike the agents used in x-ray studies, these do not contain iodine and therefore rarely cause allergic reactions or other problems.
It is very important to try to relax and remain still during the duration of the study. Usually most MRI exams take between 15 and 45 minutes. When the MRI procedure starts, you can breathe normally, however, for certain tests, it may be necessary for you to hold you breath for a short period of time.
During the scan, the MRI system operator will be able to communicate with the patient and observe you at all times. The patient will be able to contact him if he or she has any questions or feels something unusual.
After the procedure the patient can resume their normal activities. Afterwards images produced be the scan will be reviewed by a highly trained medical radiologist. He will produce a report, which you can pick up 48 working hours after the scan.