If you have never had an MRI scan, it’s normal for you to be a bit nervous before the procedure. But there is no reason to be nervous! An MRI scan is a painless and completely safe procedure that can help diagnose your condition or injury. Learn more about the procedure and what it entails:

What is an MRI Scan?

An MRI allows your physician to see inside your body without the use of X-rays or invasive procedures. Instead, the MRI machine utilizes a strong magnetic field and radio frequency to construct images that can be reviewed.

During an MRI scan, you will lie on the scan table, which will move you into the proper position in the MRI system for the procedure.  Some procedures will require patients to be positioned further in the machine than others. The procedure can be done regardless of your age.

What Can be Diagnosed with an MRI Scan?

An MRI scan can help detect a wide variety of injuries and conditions. Some of these include:

  • Many types of brain injuries
  • Sports injuries
  • Musculoskeletal problems
  • Most spinal conditions/injuries
  • Vascular abnormalities
  • Certain ENT conditions
  • Soft tissue and bone pathology conditions

How to Prepare for an MRI Scan

There is not much you need to do to prepare for an MRI scan. Every patient will be screened before the MRI is performed to ensure that they are clear to have the scan done. You may be asked to change into an MRI gown, as the machine uses a strong magnetic field. Screening procedures are in place to ensure patient safety. It is important to let your doctor know if you are pregnant or may be pregnant. In these cases, an alternative option will be used. People who suffer from claustrophobia may be given a medication to help them feel sleepy and less anxious. If you have any medical conditions that you are worried may affect the MRI scan, be sure to let your physician know prior to the scan.

All other activities can be resumed as normal, unless otherwise noted by your doctor. In most cases, you can take your daily medications and eat as you would normally.

During the Procedure

An MRI can last anywhere from 20 minutes to more than an hour, depending on which parts of your body are being evaluated. It is crucial that you remain still throughout the entire procedure, as movement can blur the images. There is no pain associated with the procedure, but you may feel some discomfort from sitting still. Because the internal part of the magnet gives off tapping and thumping noises, earplugs or music often are provided to help block the noise from disturbing you. All you have to do is close your eyes and relax!

If you are having a functional MRI done, you may be asked to perform certain tasks during the procedure. These may include tapping your thumb, rubbing a block of sandpaper or answering simple questions. These tasks can help pinpoint portions of your brain that control these actions. In some cases, a contrast material, usually gadolinium, is injected into your body to help enhance the appearance of certain details.

An allergic reaction to gadolinium is extremely rare, but if you experience symptoms such as a rash, hives or shortness of breath, you should notify the technologist performing the scan immediately.

After Your MRI Scan

After your MRI scan, you are allowed to resume your usual activities immediately. You can walk, drive and go back to work as normal. If you took medications to help you undergo the scan, you will be allowed to go home with the assistance of a driver.

A radiologist, or a doctor who is trained to interpret MRIs, will analyze your images and the report of the findings will be forwarded to your referring physician. He or she will then discuss any important findings and the next steps with you.

Schedule Your MRI Scan in Illinois

If your physician has advised you to get an MRI scan to help diagnose your condition or injury, you can trust the experts at Illinois Bone and Joint Institute. Our MRI locations are accredited by the American College of Radiology, which recognizes our commitment to quality. In addition, we regularly update and maintain all of our equipment to ensure your scan is as easy and stress-free as possible. For more information, please contact us today.

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