What Is an MRI Scan Used to Diagnose?

MRI stands for magnetic resonance imaging. This common procedure makes use of strong magnets, radio waves, and the water in a patient’s body to create high-quality images of the organs and tissues in the body without the use of radiation. A non-invasive and painless procedure, MRI images guide medical procedures that are required. 

What Do We Use MRI Scans For?

Below is a list of situations where an MRI scan would be required.

  • Brain and spinal cord abnormality
  • Tumours and cysts
  • Breast cancer screening (for high-risk women)
  • Joint injuries or anomalies
  • Some types of heart diseases
  • Liver diseases
  • Pelvic pain in women
  • Uterine anomalies in women who are being evaluated for infertility

Preparing for an MRI Scan

Before you go for an MRI scan, here are some questions you need to answer to see if you’re in condition.

  • Do you have health issues or diseases your doctor should be aware of?
  • Did you recently go through surgery?
  • Do you have any food or medicine allergies?
  • Do you have asthma?
  • Are you pregnant?
  • Do you have any metal-based devices in your body such as the following? (Having one or more of these may cause problems during the test.)
    • Artificial heart valve
    • Cochlear implant
    • Drug pump
    • Fillings and other dental work
    • Implanted nerve stimulator
    • Insulin pump
    • Metal fragments (bullet or shrapnel)
    • Metal joints or limbs
    • Pacemaker or implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD)
    • Pins or screws
    • Tattoos with ink that may contain metal

Please discuss with your doctor if any of the above applies to you.

What Happens during an MRI Scan?

On the day of your scan, choose loose-fitting, comfortable clothing that doesn’t have metal in it. The specialist in charge might also ask you to wear a hospital gown instead during the scan.

Be sure to leave behind your phone, spare coins, dentures, eyeglasses, hearing aids, keys, underwire bra, and watch before you head to the MRI room. The powerful magnets from the MRI will damage any electrical device or bank/credit cards.

In some cases, a specialist will inject a contrast dye, called gadolinium, into a vein in your arm or hand. The dye makes it easy for the doctor to see structures in your body more clearly. It’s also good to know beforehand that when you taste something metallic in your mouth, this is due to that dye and it’s normal. 

You will be asked to lie on a table, and you might also be strapped in to ensure no movement during the scan. Once you’re ready, the table will then slide into the MRI machine.

The MRI machine applies a very strong magnetic field inside your body. Since it doesn’t use radiation, you don’t have to worry about radiation exposure. Just remember to lie very still. When you move, we won’t be able to get accurate images and, therefore, give the right diagnosis. 

The computer then generates a series of images from the magnetic field signals, with each image showing a thin slice of your body. The procedure takes between 20 to 90 minutes.

You will hear loud banging noises during the scan. It’s caused by the movement of the magnets in the machine. If you think this will be bothersome for you, you may ask for earplugs or earmuffs to soften the loud sounds.

You might also feel a twitching sensation. This is normal: it’s just your nerves being stimulated by the magnetic field. 

What Equipment Is Used?

For this procedure, we use an MRI machine, a big tube with a powerful magnet surrounding it. There’s a table where the patient can lie down as well; this slides into the tube.  Whether your body will completely be inside the machine or just a part of it depends on which body part/s needed examining.

Are There Any Side Effects after an MRI Scan?

Side effects post-MRI procedure rarely happens. If any side effects do occur, it could be due to the contrast dye, which can cause nausea, headaches, and pain or burning at the point of injection in some cases. Some people may be allergic to the contrast dye as well; they can develop rashes or itchy eyes.

If your body has some reactions to the contrast material, do inform the specialist in charge.

When Can I See the Result?

Once the scan is complete, the images that have been created will be transferred to film and forwarded to the radiologist to read them. They will send a report to your doctor, who can then discuss the results with you.

Macquarie Medical Imaging: Research-Grade Imaging

At Macquarie Medical Imaging, we exist to lead the way in medical imaging. That’s why we provide accurate, research-grade medical imaging equipment across all major modalities such as CT, MRI, Ultrasound, Mammography, Nuclear Medicine (PET, SPECT) and X-Ray. Do you need an MRI scan? Know more about our services and why MMI is the smart choice for you and your needs.

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