“What is an MRI?” MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging. It enables your doctor to obtain detailed images of the inside of your body without radiation. Instead, a large magnet and radio waves are used to create the images. An MRA is a special scan that lets your doctor view blood vessels in 3D. The pictures are obtained using the same principles as MRI.
“How do I prepare for my exam?” No special preparation is required for MRI; however, it helps to wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing with no snaps or zippers. You may also be asked to remove jewelry and hairpins.
“What will I experience, and how long will my exam take?” Most scans are done with the patient lying flat and are completely painless. The body part to be scanned is placed in the center of the magnet, and nothing moves during the exam. It is very important to lie still during the examination. Most MRIs take about 45 minutes, although certain types of scans or multiple studies can take longer.
“What if I’m claustrophobic?” South Valley Imaging has one of the first High-Resolution, Open MRI scanners in the South Bay Area. This means we can easily scan most claustrophobic and large patients without sacrificing image quality. For patients who are very claustrophobic and need extra help, your doctor may be able to prescribe a sedative to take, but someone will need to drive you home after the test.
“What is “contrast” or “dye,” and how will it affect me?” MRI “contrast” or “dye” is a clear, water-based fluid that contains an element called gadolinium. MRI dye has been shown to be very safe with extremely rare cases of allergic reaction. It is not used on all exams, however your doctor or the radiologist may recommend it for certain studies. After taking an initial set of pictures, the dye is injected into the bloodstream, followed by an additional set of “comparison” images. The dye contains no iodine or radioactive elements, and is flushed out of your system within a few hours.
“When and from whom will I get the results?
Our board-certified radiologists will interpret the exam and generate a report. This will be faxed to your doctor’s office within 48 hours. Your referring physician will review the report and follow up with you to discuss the results.
“Is there anything that would prevent me from having an MRI?” Although MRI does not use ionizing radiation, patients who are or may be pregnant should check with their doctor before having an MRI performed. Also, patients who have any of the following items may not be able to have an MRI:
• Cardiac pacemaker
• Implanted defibrillator
• Brain aneurysm clips
• History of metal in the eyes
• Implanted devices, such as insulin pumps
• Certain types of ear implants[/toggle]
“I have more questions – who should I ask?” South Valley Imaging’s staff, board-certified MRI technologists and radiologists are readily available to answer questions and provide additional information.