What is it like to be in an MRI Machine?

An MRI machine is a fascinating piece of medical imaging equipment. MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging, is an instrument that doctors use every day to help diagnose and treat a number of illnesses and conditions. But for those that have never had an MRI scan performed, the machinery can seem a tad daunting. But relax and read through, and you’ll see that there is nothing to fear.

In essence, a MRI machine is a giant magnet. The magnet uses radio signals to create the images that doctors and technicians will use to make medical decisions and consider diagnostic options.

To begin, a technologist will ask that you remove your clothing and use the provided gown to cover yourself. You must remove any jewelry, piercings or electronic devices from your person. These materials can seriously aggravate the machine and distort your results. If you have surgical implants or any type of shrapnel or metal within the body, be sure to make your doctor aware of these details. Also if you are pregnant or think that you may be pregnant, let the doctor know before the test is performed.

Once you are properly attired to have the MRI performed, you will be asked to lie down on your back on the MRI table. Then the table will begin moving you into the chamber, usually feet-first. While in the chamber, you will hear some loud noises such as banging and whirring sounds. These noises should not alarm you, as they are just the machinations of the MRI. The most important aspect of the scan for the patient is to remain very still. Each section of the examined area will take anywhere from 2 to 5 minutes. The patient must remain as still as possible for these interludes as even the slightest movement can distort the image and make the procedure take longer. Doctors Imaging now has software the minimizes motion problems. The exam can take anywhere from an 20 minutes to an hour depending on what needs to be examined and what is found.

If you are claustrophobic or extremely nervous about the exam, ask your doctor if you can be provided with a light sedative to calm your nerves. For some MRI scans, the doctor may ask that contrast be used. Contrast is a material that doctors will administer either through an IV or by mouth so that key areas like tumors and blockages can be highlighted for easier diagnosis. If you have kidney function problems, be sure make your doctor aware before taking contrast. MRIs do not use any radiation so they are safe and relatively painless.

If you other questions or concerns, let your doctor or technician know before the exam. The key to remaining healthy is to have the best imaging results and the most information available as possible.

If you’re looking to get your first MRI in the Metairie or New Orleans area, come to Doctors Imaging, where we’re concerned about quality patient care. You can schedule your MRI appointment online or via phone at 504-883-8111.