Do you need radiology services? If your doctor recommends an MRI, take a look at the answers to the top questions patients have about this exam.
What Is an MRI?
Magnetic resonance imaging (or MRI) is a diagnostic scan that helps medical providers to diagnose some types of conditions, injuries, and diseases. Instead of X-rays, an MRI uses a magnetic field and radio waves to "see" into your body. To get a clear picture of your body's interior, an MRI is done inside a long, tune-like scanner.
Why Do Patients Need MRIs?
There isn't one universal reason for an MRI. This type of test is used to diagnose many different injuries and medical conditions. These range from cancerous tumors to torn ligaments.
Even though other radiology services (such as X-rays or CT scans) can help doctors to diagnose diseases, injuries, and other physical issues, your medical provider may feel that an MRI is the best option for your individual needs. If you're not sure why you need an MRI or are nervous about the test, talk to your doctor about the scan. The medical provider can help you to better understand the benefits of an MRI.
Is an MRI Painful?
An MRI is a non-invasive test. You shouldn't feel pain during an MRI. Some patients may feel stress or anxiety when they enter the tight scanning tube—especially people with claustrophobia. But this doesn't mean the scan will cause physical discomfort.
Are MRIs Noisy?
Have you heard that MRI scans are noisy? Even though this type of test isn't painful, it can get loud. The MRI technician may offer earplugs or headphones to minimize the noise exposure.
What Is an MRI With Contrast?
Some MRIs require a contrast agent for accuracy. The medical provider will inject a specialized dye into your body. The dye (a metal ion called gadolinium) can sharpen the image.
How Should You Prepare for an MRI?
This type of test requires very little preparation. Wear comfortable clothes (if you won't need to wear a hospital gown) and remove all metal from your body. Metal in or on your body can interfere with the magnet in the MRI machine or pose a safety risk. Tell your doctor and the MRI technician about metal you can't remove, such as plates or screws that hold bones in place.
Along with metal, make sure the doctor and technician know about artificial joints, artificial heart valves, and electronic devices such as a pacemaker or if you're pregnant. The doctor may need to choose an alternative radiology test to match your health-related needs.