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What is it?
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a medical imaging device, used to create comprehensive images of the organs and tissues in your body. This technique helps diagnose a plethora of diseases and injuries, through the use of magnetic fields and computer-generated radio waves. These large, tube-shaped machines can also produce 3D images that can be viewed from different angles for a better diagnosis.
How does it work?
This is a noninvasive procedure, allows the doctor to diagnose various diseases or injuries. When you lie inside an MRI machine, water molecules in your body are temporarily realigned by the magnetic fields while the radio waves generate signals from these aligned atoms to create cross-sectional images — like “slices in a loaf of bread”.
How to prepare
Before an MRI scan, you may eat normally and continue to take any medications necessary, unless instructed otherwise. You must remove all metal objects from your body including:
- Hearing aids
- Underwire bras
- Cosmetics that contain metal particles
What to expect
During the examination
- You will lie down on a movable table that slides into the tube. A technologist will be monitoring you from another room and you will be able to talk with them via a microphone
- If you suffer from claustrophobia, you may request to be sedated to make your experience more relaxing
- The procedure is painless and you won’t feel a thing
- You will hear loud repetitive tapping, thumping and other noises, created from the magnet. Headphones will be provided to drown out the sound, where you will be able to listen to a music playlist of your choice
- In some cases, a contrast material may be injected into a vein in your arm in order to enhance certain details withing your body
- The examination may last between 15 minutes to more than an hour. You must remain motionless to avoid blurring the resulting images.
What to expect
- If sedation wasn’t administered, you can resume your daily activities normally
- A Radiologist will analyze your images and make a report. The next steps will be discussed with your referring DoctorThe examination may last between 15 minutes to more than an hour. You must remain motionless to avoid blurring the resulting images.
What are the risks?
MRIs are completely safe when operated by the hands of professionals.. There is absolutely no radiation and the magnetic waves have no effects on the body after the procedure. However, because MRI uses powerful magnets, any presence of metal on or in your body can be a safety hazard. Before the examination therefore, you will be asked to remove all metal objects from your body (jewelry, belts, phones etc.) and you will be asked whether you have any metal or electronic devices in your body (pacemakers, bullet shrapnel, etc.). Even tattoos or permanent makeup, may contain traces of metal.
Before your MRI, you must state if you think you're pregnant or if you're breast-feeding, as you may receive contrast material during the procedure which may have adverse effects on the fetus.
Any kidney or liver problems should also be discussed with your doctor and the technologist, due to these organs potentially limiting the use of injected contrast agents during the scan.
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