What is MRI?
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is 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 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.
How Does an MRI Work?
Your body is composed of atoms. Water or Hydrogen atoms make up 95% of the human body. Usually the hydrogen atoms within the body spin at random. When you have an MRI, you are placed in a strong magnetic field that is up to 8,000 times stronger than that of the earth, which causes these atoms to realign and spin all in the same direction. Like CT, MRI acquires images that are a “slice” of anatomy. Using the magnetic fields and radio waves, remarkably detailed cross-sectional images of the body can be obtained. A computer processes these images to produce detailed pictures of the anatomy.
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 licensed 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 the body to be scanned, you may be asked to change into a gown. You will be asked to lie flat on a padded table.
During the exam you may hear a tapping noise. This is normal and is created when measuring the signal that comes from a patient’s body. The knocking may be loud enough to require ear plugs or head phones which we provide. 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. It's best to talk, however, in between the pictures, to minimize any motion. 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, you may do so in between image acquisition, when the knocking noise has stopped.
How Long Will My MRI Examination Take?
Beach Cities Orthopedic MRI offers a complete range of musculoskeletal examinations. Depending on the type of exam ordered, the length of the procedure will typically be between 20-30 minutes. The technologist will discuss the specifics of your exam, prior to your test.
Is MRI Safe?
Since MRI does not use radiation there are no apparent risks. If you are pregnant or nursing you should consult your physician before having an MRI scan. MRI uses a very strong magnet that 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, certain types of stents, or other implanted devices that could be sensitive to the magnetic field. Occasionally, your doctor may order an x-ray to screen for metallic objects prior to your MRI exam.
Who Cannot Have an MRI?
Almost everyone can have an MRI with complete safety. The technologist may ask certain questions about your medical history to ensure the possible results from your exam.
Patients with the following conditions are not candidates
• Patients with cardiac pacemakers, neuro-stimulators or
electrical devices in their bodies.
• Metal fragments in one or both eyes.
• Tens unit.
• Patients with cerebral aneurysm clips are sometimes excluded.
Please check with our staff if you have any questions.
• Pregnant women are generally not recommended for MRI
scans. Be sure to inform your physician and our staff if
you are pregnant.
What Should I Do to Prepare for an MRI Exam?
No special preparation is needed for the exam. Eat normally and take any medications that you usually take. BCO MRI recommends that patients wear loose, comfortable clothing without metal accessories, such as zippers, belt buckles, or buttons. Patients should ensure that their bras are free of metal, including clasps and underwires; we suggest wearing a Lycra sports bra. Also, BCO MRI asks that patients remove all body jewelry at home or prior to the examination.