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Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

 

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is an Open MRI?

Why Is MRI Performed?

What Can I Expect During An MRI Examination?

How Long Will My MRI Examination Take?

Is The MRI Examination Safe?

Will I Need An X-Ray?

Is It Safe To Have An MRI If I Have Dental Fillings?

Can I Have An MRI If I Am Pregnant?

Who Cannot Have An MRI?

If I Am Nursing An Infant And Have Had An MRI With Contrast, Can I Resume Nursing After The Exam?

Do I Need A Referral (Prescription) To Have My MRI Examination?

When Will I Know The Results Of My Examination?

What Should I Do to Prepare for an Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Exam?

What is Radiology?

Who Performs the Exams?

Why Should I Have My Examination at a The Woodlands Open MRI & Imaging Center?

Is Radiology Safe?

What Is an Open MRI?

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is an exciting new technology which allows your doctor to have the clearest possible look at your internal anatomy. MRI does not use x-rays or radiation. MRI uses a powerful magnetic field and radio waves to provide computerized images, which appear as "slices" of the anatomy, for the radiologist to determine the differences between healthy and abnormal tissue. Your doctor will use this information to help determine the course of your treatment.

Originally, MRI exams were only performed in a tunnel-like structure (Closed MRI). Some patients experienced symptoms of claustrophobia. At The Woodlands Open MRI & Imaging Center our Open MRI systems are open on three sides. This allows you to speak with staff and family members during the procedure, and generally makes for a more pleasant experience. This can be particularly helpful for small children and those who feel uncomfortable in tight or confined spaces.  Click here to see the difference between closed and open MRIs.

Why Is MRI Performed?

MRI is performed to provide information about internal tissue that cannot be viewed through x-ray. With MRI, the smallest structures in the body can be imaged.

What Can I Expect During An MRI Examination?

A technologist will explain the MRI procedure to you when you arrive. You will be asked to remove and store any objects containing metal so that there is no interference with the magnet. These include coins, watches and other jewelry, hair clips, keys, credit cards, and dentures. Depending on the part of your body to be scanned, you may be asked to change into a gown. You will be asked to lie flat on a padded table. Because of the Open MRI, you will be able to see and hear clearly.

Some patients, but not all, need an injection of contrast as part of the MR examination. When the radiologist decides that contrast is necessary, a pharmaceutical agent, called Gadolinium is administered. The Gadolinium contrast is used to make specific organs, blood vessels, or tissues stand out. This helps highlight the structures to better assess for disease or injury. The referring doctor provides The Woodlands Open MRI & Imaging Center with information about each patientís specific medical condition. The decision to use, or not use an injection of contrast is made on an individual basis, based on all the information, and the body part being examined.

If Gadolinium is necessary, a small needle (a butterfly) is inserted into a vein in the arm or hand, and removed immediately after the injection. As with any medication, there is a very slight chance of an allergic reaction. Side effects are very uncommon with Gadolinium.

During the exam you may hear a tapping noise. This is normal and is created when some of the parts of the magnet (the gradient coils) are turned on and off, very rapidly, to measure the MRI signal that comes from the patientís body. The knocking may be loud enough to require ear plugs or head phones. During the examination, you will be able to listen to music through the headphones, and to communicate with the technologist at all times via intercom.

Only the portion of the body that is being imaged must be in the center of the magnet. For example if the head is being imaged, it must be in the magnet. If the knees are being imaged, they must be in the center. However, in our state-of-the-art open magnet, patients are not contained within a tunnel, allowing for maximum comfort during the study.

You should try not to move when you are in the magnet, especially while you hear the knocking noise. It is particularly important that you not move the body part being imaged during the study. If you need to stretch a muscle, you may do so in between image acquisition, when the knocking noise has stopped.

You may talk to the technologist, via intercom, at any time during the study. Itís best to talk, however, in between the pictures, to minimize any motion.

How Long Will My MRI Examination Take?

In our MRI Center, we offer a wide array of examinations. Depending on the type of exam you receive, the length of the procedure will typically be between 30 to 60 minutes. The technologist will discuss the specifics of your exam, prior to your test

Is The MRI Examination Safe?

MRI does not use x-ray or radiation, and does not present any apparent risks. If you are pregnant or nursing you should consult your physician before having an MRI scan.

Our MRI technologists are certified and our Radiologists are board certified with specialized training in MRI.

Will I Need An X-Ray?

MRI uses no radiation, but does use a very strong magnetic field to acquire pictures. This strong magnetic field can pull on metallic objects. For safety reasons, the MRI staff must determine if you have metal in your body. Some patients may have small pieces of metal in their eyes, metallic implants, prosthetic devices that contain metal, surgical clips, or other implanted devices that could be sensitive to the magnetic field. Occasionally, x-rays may be necessary, to screen for metallic objects, prior to the MRI.

Is It Safe To Have An MRI If I Have Dental Fillings?

MRI will not affect the fillings. However, occasionally, the metal within the fillings will distort the images, if the scan is of the facial area.

Can I Have An MRI If I Am Pregnant?

MRI is considered a safe test, and there is no ionizing radiation used. However, conclusive evidence showing how safe MRI is for pregnant women and the fetus, is not yet available. MRI is generally not performed during the first twelve weeks of pregnancy (first trimester).

Generally, we do not perform MRI on pregnant women, unless there is a strong medical indication. Prior to the test, you may want to discuss this with your obstetrician, and the radiologist. Depending on the condition, other tests, including ultrasound, may be available to diagnose a medical condition.

Who Cannot Have An MRI?

Almost everyone can have an MRI with complete safety. The technologist will ask certain questions about your medical history to ensure the best possible results from your exam.

Patients with the following conditions are not candidates for MRI:

  • Patients with cardiac pacemakers, neuro-stimulators or other electrical devices in their bodies.

  • Patients with cerebral aneurysm clips are sometimes excluded.

  • Pregnant women are generally not recommended for MRI scans. Be sure to inform your physician and the MRI Center staff if you are pregnant.

If I Am Nursing An Infant And Have Had An MRI With Contrast, Can I Resume Nursing After The Exam?

We recommend that patients wait for 24 hours after receiving the Gadolinium injection, before resuming breast feeding. Patients may wish to pump breast milk prior to the exam, and store it for use during this one day period. You may wish to discuss this further with your doctor, or the radiologist.

Do I Need A Referral (Prescription) To Have My MRI Examination?

Yes, your doctor must provide a referral (prescription) in order for you to receive a examination. In addition, some insurance carriers or HMOís require a precertification. Please discuss this with your doctor and your insurance company or HMO prior to your test.

When Will I Know The Results Of My Examination?

Preliminary results will be sent promptly to your physician and a detailed written report of the procedure, findings, and results will follow within several days. Your physician will then call you to discuss the results. Urgent results will be telephoned immediately to your doctor.

What Should I Do to Prepare for an Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Exam?

No special preparation is needed for the exam. Eat normally and take any medications that you usually take.

If you are having a brain MRI please do not wear any makeup as it may interfere with the exam.

If you are having an exam with contrast, please do not eat or drink 2 hours before your exam.

If you have any other question please click here to contact us.

 

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