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MRI scan

What is an MRI scan?

Magnetic resonance imaging is an advanced imaging procedure that uses magnetic field and pulses of radio wave energy to make pictures of organs and structures inside the body. In many cases, MRI gives different information about structures than can be seen with an X-rayultrasound, or computed tomography (CT) scan. MRI also may show problems that cannot be seen with other imaging methods.

At Medicover Hospital we use SIEMENS MAGNETOM Aera MRI scanner for fast and reliable scans and the outmost image quality and resolution.

Why is an MRI scan needed?

It is used to investigate the cause of your symptoms and find problems such as tumors, bleeding, injury, blood vessel diseases, or infection. Magnetic resonance imaging also may be done to provide more information about a problem seen on an X-rayultrasound scan, or CT scan. Contrast material may be used during MRI to show abnormal tissue more clearly.

What happens during an MRI scan?

You will need to remove all metal objects (such as hearing aids, dentures, jewelry, watches, and hairpins) from your body because these objects may be attracted to the powerful magnet used for the test.

You will need to take off all or most of your clothes, depending on which area is examined (you may be allowed to keep on your underwear if it is not in the way). You will be given a gown to use during the test. If you are allowed to keep some of your clothes on, you should empty your pockets of any coins and cards (such as credit cards or ATM cards) with scanner strips on them because the magnet may erase the information on the cards.

During the test, you usually lie on your back on a table that is part of the MRI scanner. Your head, chest, and arms may be held with straps to help you remain still. The table will slide into the space that contains the magnet. A device called a coil may be placed over or wrapped around the area to be scanned. A special belt strap may be used to sense your breathing or heartbeat. This triggers the machine to take the scan at the right time.

Some people feel nervous (claustrophobic) inside the magnet. If this keeps you from lying still, you can be given a medicine (sedative) to help you relax. Some machines (called open MRI) are now made so that the magnet does not enclose your entire body.

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 taken. You may be given earplugs or headphones with music to reduce the noise. It is very important to hold completely still while the scan is being done.

How does the MRI scan work?

The area of the body being studied is placed inside a special machine that contains a strong magnet. Pictures from an MRI scan are digital images that can be saved and stored on a computer for more study. The images also can be reviewed remotely, such as in a clinic or an operating room. In some cases, contrast material may be used during the scan to show certain structures more clearly.

What are the benefits and risks of MRI scans?

Benefits:

  • painless procedure
  • provides very detailed diagnostic images of the organs and tissues in your body
  • in many cases magnetic resonance imaging can reveal unique information that other tests are unable to show
  • since MRI scan does not use radiation it is suitable for scans of children and pregnant women

Risks:

  • Risks from metal objects

The magnetic fields generated by the MRI scanner attract metal objects with great force. For this reason patients are instructed to remove all metallic belongings, such as watches, keys and jewellery.

During the scan metal containing objects – like medical implants may – in your body may heat up due to radiofrequency energy that MRI scanner uses.

  • Risks associated with contrast media

The contrast dye (gadolinium chelate) used in MRI scans does not contain iodine and rarely causes allergic reactions. Severe reactions, such as difficulty breathing and swelling of the lips and mouth, are even rarer, occurring in only about 1 in 10,000 people given gadolinium.

How should I prepare for an MRI scan?

Before your scan you have to inform your doctor and the MRI technologist about the following:

  • All medicines you are taking and if you are allergic to any medicines
  • The contrast media used for MRI does not contain iodine. It’s essential you tell your doctor and radiologist about any previous allergic reactions you’ve had, especially if you’ve had a previous reaction to contrast media.
  • If you have a health condition, such as diabetes, sickle cell anemia, or kidney problems. You may need to change your medicine schedule. And some conditions may prevent you from having an MRI using contrast material.
  • I you are or might be pregnant.
  • If you have any metal containing objects (e.g. medical implants), medicine pumps, aneurysm clips, heart pacemakers, defibrillation devices in your body. This helps your doctor know if the scan is safe for you.
  • You may need to arrange for someone to drive you to your hotel after the test, if you are given a sedative medicine to help you relax.
  • For an MRI of the abdomen, pelvis, lungs and chest, you may be asked to not eat or drink for several hours before the test.

Sufficient MRI images are assured only if the patients remain perfectly still and follow breath-holding instructions during the scan therefore it is essential you follow the instructions of our technologist.

What are the limitations of MRI scan?

The limitations of MRI scan are the followings:

  • In case of anxiety or in severe pain, you may find it difficult to lie still during imaging.
  • Large persons may not fit into the opening of MRI machine.
  • Metal objects like medical implants sometimes make it difficult to obtain clear images. Patient movement can have the same effect.
  • Breathing may cause image distortions, during MRIs of the chest, abdomen and pelvis.
  • MRI costs more and may take more time to perform than other imaging modalities.

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