If you’re scheduled for an MRI, you might have questions about what to expect from the procedure. MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging, is a non-invasive medical imaging technique that allows doctors to see inside your body without the use of ionizing radiation.
Here’s a comprehensive guide to help you understand what MRI is, how it works, and what to expect from your first scan.
What Is MRI?
MRI is a type of medical imaging that uses strong magnetic fields and radio waves to generate detailed images of the inside of your body. Unlike X-rays or CT scans, MRI does not use ionizing radiation, which makes it safer for patients and healthcare professionals.
The MRI machine is a large, tube-shaped device that contains a powerful magnet. During the procedure, you will lie down on a table that slides into the machine. The scanner will then generate a series of images that doctors can use to diagnose and monitor various medical conditions.
How Does MRI Work?
MRI works by using a powerful magnet to align the protons in your body’s hydrogen atoms. Once the protons are aligned, the scanner emits a brief burst of radio waves that knock the protons out of alignment. As the protons realign themselves, they emit energy that the scanner can detect and use to create images of your internal organs and tissues.
What Are the Types of MRI Scans?
There are several types of MRI scans that doctors can use to diagnose and monitor various medical conditions. Some common types of MRI scans include:
A scan that generates images of your brain and is used to diagnose and monitor conditions such as tumors, strokes, and multiple sclerosis.
A scan that generates images of your spine and is used to diagnose and monitor conditions such as herniated discs, spinal cord injuries, and spinal tumors.
A scan that generates images of your joints and is used to diagnose and monitor conditions such as arthritis, torn ligaments, and cartilage damage.
What Are the Risks of MRI?
MRI is generally considered safe for most patients, but there are some risks associated with the procedure. The most common risk is the possibility of an allergic reaction to the contrast dye used to enhance the images. Additionally, the strong magnetic fields generated by the scanner can cause certain metal objects in your body to move or heat up, which can be dangerous in some cases.
If you have any metal implants or devices in your body, such as a pacemaker, make sure to inform your doctor before the procedure.
What to Expect During Your MRI Scan?
Before the procedure, you will need to remove any metal objects from your body, such as jewelry, watches, and hearing aids. You may also need to change into a hospital gown.
During the scan, you will lie down on a table that slides into the MRI machine. The scanner will generate a series of loud knocking and thumping sounds, but you will be provided with earplugs or headphones to minimize the noise. You will need to remain still during the procedure to ensure clear and accurate images.
The length of the scan will depend on the type of MRI you are having and the area of your body being scanned. Most scans take between 30 and 60 minutes.
After the scan, you will be able to resume your normal activities immediately. Your doctor will review the images and discuss the results with you at your next appointment.
MRI is a safe and non-invasive medical imaging technique that allows doctors to generate detailed images of the inside of your body. If you’re scheduled for an MRI, it’s important to understand what the procedure entails and what to expect. By following the instructions of your healthcare provider and preparing for the scan, you can ensure that the procedure goes smoothly and that the images generated are accurate and helpful for your diagnosis and treatment.
If you have any questions or concerns about your upcoming MRI scan, don’t hesitate to speak with your healthcare provider. They can provide you with more information and help you feel more comfortable and confident going into the procedure.
Remember, getting an MRI is an important step in your healthcare journey, and with a better understanding of what to expect, you can feel more prepared and in control of your health.