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MRI FAQ's

Below is a list of the most frequently asked questions, but please feel free to call our office for any additional questions.

 

 

 

What is MRI?    top

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a diagnostic imaging technology that uses a strong magnet and radiofrequency waves to produce pictures or "images" of your internal organs and structures. Because MRI allows your doctor to see inside your body from any angle with great clarity, it is giving doctors a wealth of information more quickly and in many cases, more economically than past tests and exploratory surgeries.

Magnets and Metal Don't Mix
    top

When you first enter the MRI clinic, you must let your MRI physician or technologist know if you have a pacemaker, surgical clips, a prosthesis, metal implants or any other metal objects in your body. Some implants (e.g., a pacemaker) may be affected by an MRI examination. The clinic personnel will then determine whether or not you should proceed with the MRI examination.

Any metal materials that might be affected or attracted by the powerful magnet used for MRI imaging should be left at home or given to the MRI staff for safekeeping. This list includes your watch, coins, keys, bobby pins, credit cards, pocket knives, etc.

You should also be certain that you are reasonably clean of metal flakes or slivers on your skin, as found in some eye make-up or as a result of working around metal finishing or grinding equipment.

 

Why is this test important?    top

MRI allows doctors to see images of your internal organs and structures in great detail from many angles. This gives them information more quickly, and in many cases more economically, than past tests and exploratory surgeries.

 

Will it hurt?    top

No. Since MRI is "non-invasive", the exam is painless. However, your doctor may utilize a contrast agent to better visualize a part of your anatomy. If this is the case, you may receive a simple shot prior to or during the exam.

 

Will I feel anything?    top

No, but you will hear a loud knocking or buzzing sound at various intervals throughout your exam. Other than that, you won't feel a thing.

 

Does the machine use X-rays?    top

No. MRI uses a powerful magnet in conjunction with radiofrequency waves to generate images of your internal organs and structures. There is no ionizing (X-Ray) radiation.

 

Will I fit?    top

There are very few patients who cannot be comfortably accommodated for an MRI exam.

 

Is the machine open at both ends?    top

Yes. All MRI systems are open at both ends but some also have wider openings on the sides.

 

Will my head stick out?    top

That will depend on your height and what part of your body is being scanned. The part that is being imaged is in the middle of the magnet. For example, if your ankle is being scanned, your head will be outside of the scanner. If it is your head, neck, or chest is scanned, your head will be inside of the scanner.

 

Will I be claustrophobic?    top

Most people have no reaction at all. However, if you have had claustrophobic reactions to enclosed spaces before, please visit one of our Stand-UpTM MRI centers. The Stand-UpTM MRI allows patients to be scanned while in a sitting, standing or bending position.

 

Will I be alone?    top

You will be in contact with a technologist at all times. Even when he or she is not in the MRI room, you will be able to talk to him or her by intercom. The technologist is always able to see you through a large patient viewing window. In some cases a friend or family member may stay in the scan room with you during your exam. Please consult your MRI facility to learn of their policy on this matter.

 

Does the machine make a lot of noise?    top

The magnet makes a knocking sound as images are being taken. In between scans the machine is quiet. Ear plugs should be available to you for your exam and their use will not prevent you from hearing the technologist if he or she speaks to you during the exam. Some MRI facilities also have MR compatible stereo sound systems. When you arrive for your procedure, ask the technologist if a stereo sound system is available.

 

Do I have to hold still the whole time?    top

You do have to remain as still as possible, but the time passes quickly. Moving during the procedure may require repeating parts of the exam so it is best to try to remain as still as possible for the best exam results.

 

How long will the exam take?    top

That will depend on what is being studied, but a typical exam lasts between 30 and 60 minutes. You should always allow extra time in case the exam lasts longer than expected.

 

Will my insurance cover the cost of the exam?    top

Most insurance plans will reimburse the cost of most MRI exams. To find out if your insurance plan covers the specific MRI exam you will be having, contact your personnel office or insurance agent.

 

Are there things that will prevent me from being scanned?    top

Some patients with metal implants cannot be safely scanned in the MR environment. People with pacemakers, aneurysm clips, especially in the brain; and neurostimulators generally cannot be scanned. Anyone with surgical pins, shrapnel, plates or other type of metal implants should notify the technologist. You will be required to provide a health history when you arrive for your exam explaining any metallic implants you may have. A doctor will determine if a particular metal implant is approved to be in an MR environment.

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