Although the images from a CT scan and MRI may look similar, they are totally different. The MRI does not use radiation. Instead, it makes use of a powerful magnetic field and radiofrequencies to produce images of your internal organs and structures. While CT can differentiate between soft tissues and bony structures, MRI is preferable for soft tissues. Most common MRI studies are of the brain, knee, shoulder, spine, abdomen and vascular system.
What can I expect during the exam?
A highly trained MRI technologist will assist you in getting situated and comfortable, explain the procedure and answer questions you may have. The technologist will monitor the exam from the adjacent control room, and you will be able to communicate with them using a two-way intercom. If you desire, you may listen to music during the exam through headphones.
As the exam begins, the table will gently slide into the magnet’s opening. The first of multiple MRI sequences will then begin, and you will be asked to remain still throughout the procedure. During each sequence, you will hear a tapping noise indicating the imaging process is in progress. The area of the body to be scanned and the complexity of the study will determine the number of imaging sequences. MRI has the ability to display details that cannot be seen with other imaging techniques.
For certain procedures, patients may be given an intravenous injection to increase the contrast between different tissues. An MRI exam is painless with no side- or aftereffects.
Will I be exposed to radiation?
No radiation is used during the MRI exam. Unlike a traditional x-ray, MRI relies on a magnetic field and radio frequency.
How long will the exam take?
Depending on how many images are to be generated, an MRI exam generally takes 30-45 minutes, although a very detailed study may take longer.
How do I prepare?
In most cases, no special preparation is needed. You may continue your daily routine, eating, drinking and taking medications as you normally would. Should your exam require any special preparations, the healthcare provider scheduling your exam will give you instructions.
All patients will be screened prior to entering the MRI suite. Metallic objects may attracted to the magnetic power of the MRI, so no metal of any kind will be permitted in the exam room. You will be asked to remove all jewelry, coins, keys, bobby pins, credit cards, pocketknives and any other metallic objects before entering the exam room.
Some permanent eyeliner can cause injury, since makeup that contains metal flakes can heat and cause skin irritation. Consequently, women may be asked to wash removable makeup before the exam to avoid the risk of eye injury. Please note: tattoos also can contain metal dyes that can heat and cause skin irritation.
It is recommended that you wear clothing without metal zippers, snaps or buttons. If you prefer, you may change into a hospital gown prior to the exam.
Some patients may have metal inside their bodies. Before entering the MRI suite, please inform your technologist if you have:
- A cardiac pacemaker, artificial heart valve or aneurysm clips
- Any type of metal plate, prostheses, pin or metallic implant
- An intrauterine device, such as Copper-7 IUD
- Any metal fragments in your body (from a previous gunshot wound or from exposure to metal fragments on the job)
In some cases, patients with any of the above will be rescheduled for an alternative diagnostic exam. Our personnel will determine whether or not you should proceed with this type of procedure.
To learn more about MRI safety, visit www.MRIsafety.com.
How will I know the results?
Following your exam, a radiologist specializing in MRI will analyze and interpret the images from your exam and prepare a full report. This report will be sent directly to your physician, who will share the results with you. To request a copy of the report, you may contact your physician’s office or Medical Arts Hospital’s Medical Records Department at 806-872-2183.
How do I schedule an appointment?
The physician’s office will either contact the MRI department to schedule your appointment or have you call and make the arrangements. If your physician asks you to make the arrangements, please contact us at 806-872-2183, and have your physician orders available when you call. We will need to know the type of MRI and the diagnosis your physician has indicated for the procedure.
What do I need to bring with me the day of the exam?
You will need to bring your physician’s order, some form of personal identification and any insurance or Medicare information.