Magnetic resource imaging (MRI) is a test that uses magnets and pulses
of radio wave energy to take pictures of organs or other structures inside
the body. It can often show problems that cannot be seen with other diagnostic
tools, such as X-ray, ultrasound or CT scan. When an MRI test is being
done, the area of the body being studied is placed inside a machine that
contains a powerful magnet. The MRI produces digital images so they can
be saved and used for more study.
Why an MRI?
Because an MRI is more powerful than standard X-rays, ultrasounds and CT
scans, it is used to find serious problems such as tumors, bleeding, injury
or infection. It may also be used to further examine a problem that was
found on an X-ray, ultrasound or CT scan. An MRI scan may be done on the
following areas of the body:
- Head – An MRI can look for tumors, aneurysms, bleeding in the brain,
or damage caused by a stroke. It can also be used to find problems of
the eyes and ears.
- Chest – An MRI can look at the heart, valves and coronary blood vessels
and to see if there is any damage to the heart or lungs. It can also look
for breast cancer and lung cancer.
- Blood Vessels – MRIs can locate problems of the arteries and veins,
such as an aneurysm, blocked blood vessel or a torn lining of a blood vessel.
- Abdomen and Pelvis - An MRI can identify problems in organs such as the
liver, gallbladder, pancreas, kidneys and bladder. It can also be used
to view the uterus and ovaries in women and the prostate in men.
- Bones and Joints – MRIs can check for problems such as arthritis,
bone marrow problems, bone tumors, cartilage problems, torn ligaments
or tendons, or infection. Also, an MRI may be used for further review
if a standard X-ray was unable to determine if a bone is broken or not.
- Spine – MRIs can check the discs and nerves for spinal stenosis,
disc bulges and spinal tumors.
How to Prepare
As with any health care procedure, being prepared plays an important part
in the outcome of your procedure and your satisfaction as a patient. To
help you prepare for your MRI we have a few tips. First of all, tell your
doctor or MRI technologists if you:
- Are allergic to any medications
- Are or might be pregnant
- Have a pacemaker, artificial limb, any metal pins or parts in your body,
metal heart valves, metal clips in your brain, metal implants in your
ears, tattooed eyeliner or any other implanted or prosthetic medical device
- Have had an accident or work around metal
- Have had recent surgery on a blood vessel
- Have an intrauterine device (IUD) in place
- Become very nervous in confined spaces
- Wear any medicine patches
- Have any other health conditions, such as kidney problems or sickle cell anemia
You will be asked to sign a consent form saying that you understand and
agree to the risks of an MRI before you have your procedure done; your
doctor will review the potential risks in detail when discussing the test
with you. Please talk to your doctor if you have any concerns or questions
over this procedure. You may also need to arrange for someone to drive
you home after the test if you are given medicine to help you relax.
Please take note: It is also very important to remember to remove all metal
objects such as hearing aids, dentures, jewelry, watches and hairpins
from your body, as these objects will be attracted to the magnet used
for the test.
During Your MRI
During your test, you will lie on your back on a table that is part of
the MRI scanner. In order to help you remain still, you may be strapped
in at your arms, head, and chest. A special device called a coil may be
placed over or wrapped around the area to be scanned and a special belt
strap may be used to sense your breathing or heartbeat.
Once the test begins, the table will slide into the space that contains
the magnet. Inside the scanner you will hear a fan and feel air moving.
You may also hear tapping or snapping noises as the MRI scans are being
taken. It is very important that you hold completely still while this
is going on to ensure clear and accurate images are taken. The test should
last 30 minutes to an hour, although some can take as long as two hours.
We understand that an MRI can be an uncomfortable experience and can cause
some uneasiness, especially if you feel nervous in tight spaces. To help
ease your discomfort, we’ve located our MRI in a well lit room with
large windows, to allow plenty of natural light. Your doctor or MRI technologist
may also be able to give you a sedative if your nervousness prevents you
from holding still.
There is no pain involved during your MRI test and no known harmful effects
from the powerful magnetic field used for imaging. The radiologist will
review the findings and send a report to your physician who will be able
to discuss the complete results with you.
Our MRI is located in the radiology department on the first floor of the
hospital. For more information, please call (740) 623-4132.