Below you will find some great information on how to ensure your MRI experience is as smooth and effortless as possible. Also, feel free to call us anytime with any questions at 888-322-7785.
Preparing for an Upcoming MRI Scan
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) provides a highly detailed look into the body. This particular form of imaging is often used in diagnosis and can be used to assess the progression of an illness and other conditions inside the patient. Because MRIs rely on the use of intense magnetic energy, patients should be aware of how to best prepare for this scan. There are many conditions which could potentially prevent you from having an MRI conducted, including:
- Aneurism clips
- History of kidney problems
- Insulin pump or other implanted infusion device
- Dorsal column stimulators
- Past exposure of metal fragments to your eye
- History of working with metal
- Wounds caused by bullets or shrapnel
- Cochlear implants
- History of diabetes
- Allergy to gadolinium or iodine
If you have any of these conditions or any other conditions you believe might be relevant, be sure to discuss them with your provider in advance of scheduling an MRI. There may be other conditions that exclude a patient from receiving an MRI scan so talking with your provider about this topic is very important.
Before You Leave Home
On the day of your appointment arrive a few minutes prior to your scheduled time and be sure to bring any identification, your prescription from your doctor, insurance paperwork, or other documents that are required; have a full list of medications you are currently using, too. To prevent any loss or damage to valuable items, it is recommended that patients leave jewelry, watches, and other personal items at home. Any personal items that you have on your person will need to be removed prior to entering the room where the scan will take place.
Not everyone is comfortable changing into hospital attire. To avoid this, consider wearing cotton clothing without any hooks, zippers, buttons, wired undergarments, or other metal features.
Patients with claustrophobia can request an oral sedative. Discuss this with your doctor before your appointment. Any patients receiving sedation should arrange for transportation following their appointment as the oral medication will make them unsafe to drive themselves. If you require any interpretation services, this should also be arranged prior to your appointment.
At Your Appointment
Very little preparation is required for an MRI scan. Unless you have been instructed otherwise, you can expect to take your medication as normal. There are very few dietary restrictions related to MRI scans; you will be told about these before your appointment.
You will be given a locker to store your clothing in if you will be changing into a hospital gown. From there, you will be taken to the room where the MRI machine is housed. These machines are typically very large and require the patient to lie down on a platform that slides into the main portion of the device; the part of the body being scanned will be within the MRI equipment. A two-way intercom will allow you to communicate with the scanner technologist.
During some MRI scans a special intravenous contrast dye may be used. Patients who receive these injections should alert the technologist to any discomfort they experience during the dye’s administration. Patients will also be given an alert button that can be used to alert the technologist of any discomfort you experiencing during the procedure itself.
Patients will need to hold very still during the procedure; movement can distort the final images. Upon entering the machine patients may be asked to hold their breath for up to 30 seconds.
While the scan is taking place, patients may hear intermittent loud knocking sounds. This is one of the normal sounds made by the machine during operation. Patients will be provided with earplugs or other ear protection for their comfort.
Following Your MRI Scan
If an intravenous dye was used, the catheter will be removed from your arm after the scan is complete. Gadolinium allergies are extremely rare; most patients experience no unusual symptoms following the use of contrast dye. However, if you experience hives, rash, or shortness of breath alert the technologist immediately. If these symptoms develop later, go to the nearest emergency room.
Any patient that has received sedation to minimize anxiety and stress during the procedure will be sent home once they are awake and alert.
MRI scans are a normal part of many diagnostic procedures and play a key role in the development of treatment plans. Preparation for these important scans help improve their outcomes.
What to Expect During an MRI Test
An MRI scan is a diagnostic procedure that provides a highly accurate look inside a patient’s body. High powered magnets are used to create the computerized image; the magnetic array is housed within a large, long machine.
During the test a patient lies on a sliding platform that is used to precisely position the patient’s body inside the device. Only the part of the body being scanned needs to be within the MRI machine. This is a non-invasive procedure that typically requires very little special preparation by the patient.
During the scan, patients are monitored closely by the technologist running the test. A microphone is present inside the MRI device that allows the patient and technologist to communicate. Typically, exams take approximately 25-30 minutes. Patients must remain as still as possible during the scan.
MRI with Contrast
In some cases a special contrast dye is injected into the patient using an intravenous line. This allows a more detailed image of internal organs and other structures. Iodine and gadolinium are the two most commonly used contrast agents. Unlike the contrast material used in CT scans, patients typically tolerate both gadolinium and iodine very well; allergic reactions are rare. Patients should alert the technologist of any discomfort during injection and of any discomfort in the injection site during the test. Following the test, patients should go to the nearest ER if hives, rash, or shortness of breath occur.
MRI Test Do’s and Don’ts
There are a few tips that patients should keep in mind to ensure a comfortable testing experience:
- Leave valuable personal items, including jewelry, at home
- Dress in cotton clothing free of metal features, including zippers, and buttons wired undergarments. Gowns are available for patients whose clothing contains any sort of metal.
- If you experience claustrophobia, tell our scheduling staff at when making your appointment so that we can schedule you accordingly
- If you any metal implants, a pacemaker, or work with metal (grinding, welding, etc.), please let our scheduling staff know
- If you are pregnant or believe you might be, please let our scheduling staff know
- Let your technologist know of any known allergies to iodine or gadolinium
- Tell technologist of any discomfort associated with contrast dye injection
The Results of Your MRI Test
The images created during your MRI test will be sent to a radiologist, a doctor that specializes in their interpretation. A report will be prepared and sent to your doctor, who will discuss any important findings with you.