What is MRI?
An MRI (or magnetic resonance imaging) scan is a radiology technique which uses magnetism, radio waves, and a computer to produce images of body structures. An MRI scan can be used as an extremely accurate method of disease detection throughout the body.
Why is the MRI done?
An MRI scan can be used as an extremely accurate method of disease detection throughout the body. In the head, trauma to the brain can be seen as bleeding or swelling. Other abnormalities often found include brain aneurysms, stroke, tumors of the brain, as well as tumors or inflammation of the spine.
Neurosurgeons use an MRI scan not only in defining brain anatomy but in evaluating the integrity of the spinal cord after trauma. It is also used when considering problems associated with the vertebrae or intervertebral discs of the spine.
An MRI scan can evaluate the structure of the heart and aorta, where it can detect aneurysms or tears. It provides valuable information on glands and organs within the abdomen, and accurate information about the structure of the joints, soft tissues, and bones of the body. Often, surgery can be deferred or more accurately directed after knowing the results of an MRI scan.
MRI is widely used to diagnose sports-related injuries, especially those affecting the knee, shoulder, hip, elbow, and wrist.
How is the test performed?
Patients lie within a closed environment inside the magnetic machine. Relaxation is important during the procedure and patients will be asked to breathe normally. Interaction with the MRI technologist is maintained throughout the test. There are loud, repetitive clicking noises which occur during the test as the scanning proceeds.
The MRI scanning time depends on the exact area of the body studied but ranges from half an hour to an hour and a half.
On the day of the test……
- Please wear comfortable clothing while coming for the test.
- Please do not bring valuables such as jewellery and credit cards.
- Please bring any old scans, if you have, for the comparative study with the previous one(s).
- It is also important for the patient to inform medical staff if they use electrical appliances, such as a hearing aid or pacemaker, or have any metal in their body such as surgical clips, but orthopaedic metalware such as artificial hips or bone screws is not normally a problem.
- Your MRI is performed by a registered technician.
- The images will be interpreted by a board-certified radiologist.
After the test…….
You will be able to resume your usual activities. Date and time for the collection of the report shall be communicated to you. Your physician will discuss the test results with you.
Are there any risks associated with the test?
There are no known dangers or side effects connected to an MRI scan. The test is not painful; you cannot feel it. Since radiation is not used, the procedure can be repeated without problems. There is a small theoretical risk to the foetus in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, and therefore scans are not performed on pregnant women during this time.
Because patients have to lie inside a large cylinder while the scans are being made some people get claustrophobic during the test. Patients who are afraid this might happen should talk to the doctor beforehand, who may give them some medication to help them relax.
The machine also makes a banging noise while it is working, which might be unpleasant.
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