Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI/MRA)
Magnetic resonance imaging is a diagnostic procedure using a magnetic field and radio waves to image portions of your body. It is particularly helpful in imaging soft tissues such as joints, spinal cord, muscles, brain, abdomen and pelvis. A computer analyzes the radio signals coming back from the body and produces a cross-sectional image of the targeted structure. For some bodily structures, MRI is the best of all imaging techniques.
MRA is MRI imaging of blood vessels. Typically, it is images of the vessels of the head or neck.
When your physician orders an MRI, let them know if you have any metal objects in your body. Metal can interfere with the magnetic field. If you have any of the following, an MRI cannot be done:
Cardiac pacemakers or defibrillators
Some brain aneurysm clips
Metal fragments in eye from welding, etc. (this may *require a preliminary x-ray)
Some older metal implants from surgeries
Some people are affected by closed in spaces, claustrophobia, and if this is the case you need to discuss this with your physician. You may follow a normal diet and take your medications before the procedure. Some procedures require a type of contrast however it will not make you feel like "x-ray dye" does.
When you arrive at the hospital, sign in at the front desk in the main lobby. Your personal information and insurance information will be taken by one of the admissions personnel. You will then be taken to the mobile MRI unit outside the Emergency Department. You will be asked to remove all metal objects from your body and you may need to change into a hospital gown. It is advisable to leave any valuables or jewelry at home. You will be asked to lie on a padded MRI table. You may go into the scanner either head first or feet first depending on your exam. When the exam starts you will hear some noises such as banging but this is normal. You may request earplugs or headphones, which will help with this noise. The technologist will be in the control room watching the exam and will be able to hear you if you need assistance. The exam will take approximately 45 to 60 minutes. After completion of the exam, you will be able to leave and follow your normal routine.
The radiologist will study the images and dictate a report to your physician. Your physician should have a report within 2-3 days.