Patient Information

MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging. It is one of the most advanced ways to view precise details of the head, neck, spine, muscles, joints and bones. It is also used to image the chest, abdomen, pelvis, arteries and veins. MRI has proven very valuable for the diagnosis of a broad range of pathologic conditions in all parts of the body, including cancer, heart and vascular disease, arthritis of the joints and spine, stroke and musculoskeletal disorders among many others. MRI requires specialized equipment and expertise which allows evaluation of some body structures that may not be as visible with other imaging methods.

An MRI scanner consists of a very strong magnet in which the patient lies. A radio wave antenna is used to send signals to the body and then receive signals back detecting faint radio waves released by your body’s atoms. These returning signals are converted into pictures by a computer attached to the scanner and can be reproduced on films or CD. Pictures of almost any part of your body can be obtained at any chosen angle. The exam is extremely safe and there is no radiation exposure during an MRI.

During the MRI exam, you will be asked to rest motionless on a padded table for 20 to 60 minutes depending on the area of your body being scanned.The area of interest will be positioned in the center of the magnet. The more open construction of our MRI systems has done much to reduce the sense of being “closed in”. Patients are generally required to remain still for only a few seconds to a few minutes at a time but between sequences some movement is allowed. During the scan you will hear faint hums and may feel mild vibrations, however, Beaches MRI scanner is one of the quietest and fastest available. You will also be in constant contact with a courteous, caring technologist and may communicate with them at any time if the need arises.

To help make your MRI experience a pleasant one, we have a music system you can listen to while undergoing your exam. Please feel free to bring a favorite CD. Our large comfortable scanning room also allows a companion to accompany you throughout the entire exam.

No special preparation is necessary. You can continue to take all medication and follow your regular diet unless told otherwise. Because the strong magnetic field used for MRI will pull on any ferromagnetic metal object implanted in the body, MRI staff will ask whether you have a prosthetic joint, heart pacemaker (or artificial heart valve), electronic implants, implanted port, infusion catheter (brand names Port-o-cath, Infusaport, Lifeport), intrauterine device (IUD), or any metal plates, pins, screws, or surgical staples in your body. In most cases, surgical staples, plates, pins and screws pose no risk during MRI if they have been in place for more than four to six weeks. Tattoos and permanent eyeliner may also create a problem. You will be asked if you have ever had a bullet or shrapnel in your body, or ever worked with metal. If there is any question of metal fragments, you may be asked to have an x-ray that will detect any such metal objects. Tooth fillings usually are not affected by the magnetic field, but they may distort images of the facial area or brain, so the radiologist should be aware of them. The same is true of braces, which may make it hard to “tune” the MRI unit to your body. You will be asked to remove anything that might degrade MRI images of the head, including hairpins, jewelry, eyeglasses, hearing aids, and any removable dental work. 

The radiologist or technologist may ask about drug allergies and whether head surgery has been done in the past. If you might be pregnant, this should be mentioned.

Some MRI examinations require the use of a non-iodine containing injectible contrast material to increase the sensitivity of the examination and obtain additional information. This is injected into a vein using a very small needle. It is very safe and is unrelated to the iodine used for CAT scans and kidney x-ray. The decision to use this will be made by your referring physician and / or the radiologist.

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