What to Know Before Your MRI

Since its inception in the early 1970s, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has become an essential tool in diagnosing and treating a wide range of medical conditions. MRI can provide detailed images of the body’s organs and structures, making it an invaluable tool for diagnosing cancer, heart disease, and neurological disorders.

According to the latest National Institutes of Health statistics, more than 60 million MRI procedures were performed in the United States in 2017. This represents a significant increase from the approximately 20 million MRI procedures performed in 2000. The increasing use of MRI is partly due to advances in technology that have made the procedure more widely available and affordable.

What is an MRI?

MRI Scan

An MRI is a safe and painless test that uses a magnetic field and radio waves to create detailed images of the inside of your body. Doctors use MRIs to diagnose and monitor many conditions, including cancer, heart disease, stroke, and joint and muscle problems.

As the use of MRI continues to grow, it is vital to be aware of the potential risks associated with the procedure. MRI uses strong magnetic fields and radio waves to create images, and there is a small risk that these could cause harm to the body. However, most MRI procedures are safe and well-tolerated by patients.

What to Know Before Your MRI

Despite the many advantages of MRI, it can also be a stressful experience, particularly for people who are claustrophobic or fearful of being in enclosed spaces. Preparing for the procedure is one of the best ways to get the most accurate results from an MRI scan and ensure that you have a positive experience during the procedure.

These preparation tips will help you better understand what to expect when undergoing an MRI and maximize your comfort level throughout the process. Rest assured that if you suffer from a medical condition like pain from arthritis or osteoporosis that requires frequent imaging scans, there are ways to make these procedures more comfortable. Here’s how to improve your experience:

Before Your Appointment for an MRI Scan:

  • Talk to your doctor. Whether you’re a first-time patient or have undergone numerous MRI scans, it’s important to talk to your doctor or the radiologist performing the procedure about what to expect before, during, and after an MRI scan. Let your doctor know if any of these apply to you:
    • ◦ If you have metal implants or devices, such as shrapnel, joint replacements, bullet fragments, piercing jewelry or pacemakers, or defibrillators
    • ◦ If you are pregnant
    • ◦ If you have claustrophobia (fear of closed spaces)
    • ◦ If you have diabetes, dementia, or kidney disease
  • Medications. Your doctor may also recommend taking certain medicines before your appointment to relax you. Be sure that they are aware of any allergies or side effects you’ve experienced with previous medication use so that they can make appropriate recommendations for you.
  • Clothing. Wear loose, comfortable clothing. Metal fasteners can interfere with the MRI scan. If you’re uncertain if your clothing is appropriate, ask the staff at the facility where you’ll be undergoing the procedure. They will usually provide a gown to change into.
  • Remove jewelry. Remove all jewelry. Any type of metal jewelry, including body piercings, can interfere with the MRI scan, so it’s important to remove these items before the procedure.
  • Arrive early. MRI appointments can sometimes take longer than expected due to unforeseen circumstances, so it’s always best to arrive early for your appointment in case there are any delays. This will help ensure that you don’t feel rushed or stressed out before your MRI scan.

During Your MRI Scan:

The actual procedure is usually very straightforward once you’re prepped and ready for your MRI scan. Here’s what you can expect during an MRI:

  • You’ll be asked to lie down on a table that slides into the MRI machine.
  • A technician will then position you in the machine to allow them to get clear images of the area they are scanning.
  • Once you’re in position, the technician will leave the room and operate the machine from another location. You will be able to communicate with them through an intercom system inside the machine.
  • The machine will make loud banging noises as it takes pictures of your internal organs and structures. If you find these noises disturbing, request earplugs or headphones to help block out the noise. Many ImageCare locations offer a selection of music to listen to – just ask!
  • The procedure usually takes 30-60 minutes, although it may take longer depending on the reason for your scan. ImageCare will soon be introducing a 10 minute MRI that provides exceptional imaging.

After Your MRI Scan:

Once the MRI is complete, you’ll be able to get up and return to your normal activities right away. There are no side effects from having an MRI, and no recovery time is needed. Your doctor will go over the results of your scan with you at a later date.

If you’re scheduled for an MRI scan, following these simple tips can help make the experience more comfortable and relaxing. If you have any questions or concerns about your upcoming procedure at ImageCare Radiology, be sure to ask your doctor or the staff here. They will be happy to address any of your concerns and make sure that you’re comfortable before, during, and after the procedure.

Schedule Your MRI Today

At ImageCare Radiology, we offer diagnostic imaging services, including MRIs. When you choose ImageCare Radiology, you’re getting imaging at a fraction of the cost of a local hospital or emergency room. We work with you and your physicians to ensure your doctor has what they need. If your doctor requested an MRI or any other imaging service, call us today at 973-871-3333 to schedule an appointment or complete our convenient online appointment request form.