About Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) produces images of the body’s internal structures by passing radio waves through a powerful magnetic field. Differing frequencies of radio waves are produced by the different body structures, in return, and these are mapped and converted into digital images by a computer. MRI is especially good for imaging soft tissues in the body, including the brain, nerves, muscles and organs.
At Marquis Diagnostic Imaging, we strive to make your MRI exam as comfortable as possible. Our MRI system, the TITAN, has the widest opening available. It is designed to reduce scan noise by as much as 90% providing a more soothing scan experience. Patients with renal insufficiency and diabetes are now able to be imaged using contrast-free MRA techniques.
What to expect
During an MRI scan, you will lie comfortably on your back on a table that is moved inside a large magnet. A piece of equipment called a "coil," which sends and receives the radio frequency waves used in this technology, will be placed around the area being examined. During the scan, as with all MRI exams, you will hear various noises, ranging from a buzzing to a loud knocking. You will be given comfortable headphones to diminish noise. Feel free to bring a music CD of your choice or an IPOD to listen to.
Because an MRI exam can take images or "slices" from various angles, several sequences or sets of images will be taken. Each sequence will last from one to 10 minutes, and the technologist will inform you before the scanning noise begins. The total exam time for a scan can range from 30 to 60 minutes. You must lie very still during each sequence, in order to produce clear, diagnostic images.
Depending on your symptoms or prior medical history you may be given an intravenous contrast medium for your scan. The technologist will explain this procedure to you if necessary.
Since you will be positioned within a large, very strong magnet, you must remove all loose metal objects. Doing so is important for your safety as well as that of our staff, and for proper functioning of the equipment. We offer storage lockers in which you may keep your valuables during your examination. You may be asked to change into a gown unless you are wearing clothing that is metal-free. You will need to complete a detailed screening sheet, on which you will be asked whether or not you have any metal or other devices implanted in your body that may interfere with the scan or cause injury to you. If you have any concerns or questions about that aspect of the procedure, please ask the technologist before you enter the room. We also will be happy to answer your questions by telephone at any time before your appointment.
Options exist for patients who suffer from claustrophobia or who are unable to lie still for several minutes at a time, such as infants or children. Because no radiation is involved, a family member or friend can remain in the scan room with you to offer comfort and support. Anyone who enters the scan room will need to be screened by our staff.
A second option is taking anxiety-relieving medication such as Valium, which your physician can prescribe for you. If you think you may need to be pre-medicated, please discuss the procedure and timing when you are scheduling your appointment. Also, be aware that you cannot drive for several hours after you take this medication, so you will need to arrange for transportation home.
Some types of scans require fasting beforehand. You will be instructed if fasting is necessary for your procedure.
Side effects and complications
MRI does not cause any known long-term side effects. You may experience temporary ringing in the ears, similar to the sensation following a loud music concert. The headphones should minimize this. While MRI examination has no known effects upon a fetus, please let the staff know if you may be pregnant. In some cases, your scan may be modified or rescheduled later during your pregnancy.