Can I Have an MRI During Pregnancy?

When we become injured or sick, it can be troubling, but with support and medicine, we can treat ourselves and our symptoms. However, when a woman is pregnant and becomes sick or injured, there are more lives than hers to consider during treatment. There are lists of activities and products that pregnant woman have to avoid but should medical imaging be one of these? We are going to discuss the precautions and protections in place to help keep both mommy and baby healthy.

The first thing that probably comes to mind when considering the danger of medical imaging while pregnant is radioactive substances and procedures that utilize this kind of medicine. And when we think of radioactive medical procedures, the first that come to mind are X-rays, CTs, and PET-CT scans. All of these procedures have a radioactive element. But before expectant mothers become worried, they should know that there are safety guidelines for their benefit.

Expectant mothers should not be barred from accessing potentially life-saving imaging procedures. As such, medical imaging equipment manufacturers and researchers work hard to give the best quality equipment along with the safest for all potential patients. Being the oldest form of medical imaging technology, X-rays have been used by pregnant women since their invention. Having your X-rays performed at a facility like Doctors Imaging means that your doctor and our radiologists will seek alternatives to radiation and, if unavoidable, will work to reduce the dosage of radiation exposure. As with all medical procedures, if you think that you might be pregnant, be sure to let your doctor or the radiology technician know.

At Doctors Imaging, the procedures that seem to cause mothers the most worry are CT scans and MRIs. Please know that CT scans use X-rays combined with computer technology in order to compose images for medical use. Pregnant women: Please talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of CT scans.

The other procedure we hear the most concern about from expectant mother is an MRI. Fortunately, we can often alleviate these concerns because MRIs are one of the safest procedures for pregnant women. Having an MRI during pregnancy is safe because MRIs, or magnetic resonance imaging, only use the magnetic mechanical components along with radio frequencies in order to map the interior of the body. There are absolutely no radioactive components for mothers to worry about and the detail that can be gleaned from MRIs during pregnancy is both valuable and necessary. At Doctors Imaging, our 3T MRI technology is the most powerful MRI in clinical use. For MRI patients with claustrophobia, we also have an open MRI machine this tends to be much less intimidating.

Finally, please know that we don’t recommend PET-CT scans for pregnant or breastfeeding mothers. PET (positron emission tensor imaging CT scans) use nuclear medicine in order to highlight differences between healthy and diseased tissue in the body and brain. This test utilizes a radioactive drug that is administered directly into the body. This drug can be harmful to the baby. Often, physicians will find an alternative diagnostic method in these cases.

We are committed to keeping both mom and baby as comfortable and healthy as possible at Doctors Imaging. If you have more questions about X-rays, CT scans or MRIs during pregnancy, please feel free to call our offices in Metairie at 504-883-8111, Monday through Friday.

How Invasive are Medical Imaging Procedures?

The innovations made within the medical technology field have taken away a vast amount of risk and pain done during these procedures, but sometimes in order to get the best images so that your doctor can make the most informed diagnosis possible requires a bit of discomfort. Depending on the concern or condition, there are a variety of medical imaging procedures that can be performed with various degrees of invasiveness. Luckily most of these procedures do not take long and if you have serious concerns or a condition that would make performing these procedures unbearably painful, you should speak to your doctor about different options and features that can still be performed. For this article, the procedures will be ordered from least to most invasive.

X-Ray

X-rays are painless and not invasive at all. The joints and bone structures of the body are imaged while the patient remains still on the procedure table. If a patient is pregnant or may be pregnant, they should inform their doctor. The radiation used in X-rays is an extremely small amount and a lead shield can protect the fetus if the test is medically necessary, but there may be other avenues of imaging that your doctor can perform instead.

PET-CT Scan

For these scans, your facility or doctor may request that you not eat anything for four hours prior to the exam and drink a lot of water. Contrast material is also used in this procedure. Contrast material will be administered intravenously and will require that the patient remain still for 30-90 minutes so that the contrast material has opportunity to circulate.

MRI Procedure

MRI is extremely low in its degree of invasiveness. Despite the slight prick of IV administration of contrast fluid, some patients experience a sense of claustrophobia entering the MRI machine. If this an issue for you, speak to your doctor about having a friend or family member in the procedure room with you or for more serious cases, your doctor may be able to provide you with a mild sedative.

CT Scans

CT scans are a painless procedure. Some doctors may require patients to not eat at least an hour prior to the examination. Contrast material is also used in CT scans and can be administered either through IV or by swallowing. Some describe a metallic taste in the mouth, or slight itchiness around the injection site. If a patient experiences more serious symptoms, it could be indicative of an allergic reaction or a type of condition that reactions to the contrast fluid.

Ultrasounds

Depending on the area or conditioned being examined, an ultrasounds procedure has varying degrees of invasiveness. None are particularly painful just slightly uncomfortable. Speaking with your doctor about your concerns can help to minimize the unpleasantness. And for determining and monitoring pregnancy, detecting signs of infertility or for examining reproductive organs, some patients may have to undergo a transvaginal ultrasound in which the transducer is placed in the vagina to image organs like the uterus and ovaries.

On the whole, imaging procedures performed today are minimally or non-invasive. If you’re looking for safe and comfortable imaging procedures in the New Orleans, Metairie, or Kenner area, please call 504-883-8111 or schedule your appointment online today.