An MRI or magnetic resonance imaging scanner is a visualization tool that helps specialists either rule out conditions or diagnose you with certainty. These scans don’t cause pain—electromagnetic fields do not damage your tissue in any way.
While having your scan, certain MRI parts might whir, tap, or knock against each other. If it is bothersome, you could get earplugs to block out the noise. When you’re inside the scanning area, you can also communicate with the MRI technologist via intercom. Since an MRI scan is an unusual experience for most people, it’s understandable that they would not know how to deal with it. Here are some things to remember if you’re having a scan for the first time.
Remove metallic clothes and accessories
Before the exam, you need to remove all your metallic belongings. If you have a watch, a mobile phone, an external hearing aid, or jewelry on you, you need to remove it before the scan.
Furthermore, if you have cosmetics with metallic particles—-makeup, for instance, or nail polish—you need to remove these as well. The MR system can quickly move objects that contain iron. There are no ferromagnetic MRI parts inside the scanning area. When the process begins, the scanner can move these iron-heavy metals around, which is dangerous for anyone in a metallic object’s “flight path.”
Inform your doctor if you have medical devices
Since the MR system attracts objects with iron, you have to inform the MRI technologist if you have metallic medical implants, aneurysm clips, medication pumps, and the like. In some cases, medical implants might heat substantially during an exam, endangering the patient.
Similarly, if you have an external hearing aid, pacemaker, neurostimulator, or even a lodged bullet or metallic fragment in your body, you have to inform the technician. MR systems could change the position of these items, which could also cause injuries.
In some cases, you might need an injection of gadolinium, a contrast agent that improves the MR images. Gadolinium does not contain iodine, so it is unlikely to cause an allergic reaction. Note, though, that you need to inform your technologist or radiologist if you have a history of kidney or liver disease or have had a transplant.
Besides the items mentioned above, you need to inform your technician if you have cochlear implants, neurostimulation systems, catheters with metallic parts, or possible metallic foreign bodies located within or near your eyes. (If you are a metal worker, you might have this issue.)
Note that you can use certain pacemakers, cochlear implants, and other medical devices during MRI exams. You only need to inform your technologist of your device’s exact model so they can implement the appropriate safety measures. Before your exam, obtain the necessary information already, so you can present it to your radiologist for noting.
An MRI scan is painless and won’t take more than 15 to 90 minutes, depending on the area size and number of images needed. However, it could be dangerous for some individuals, especially those with implants and other metallic devices. Inform your doctor of anything that could cause complications during the test.
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