Frequently Asked Questions
- What is an MRI?
An MRI, short for Magnetic Resonance Imaging, is a non-invasive way of viewing bones, organs and tissue inside the body. MRIs can be used to locate and identify a variety of problems that may occur in the body. It is done with a machine that scans the body using a magnetic field, radio frequency waves and occasionally contrast media, also referred to as "dye", to produce images of specific structures in the body from multiple angles. These images are then interpreted by a radiologist.
An MRI is better than other investigatory methods because it is non-invasive, uses no radiation, is done within a relatively short period of time, there is no recover period and it allows doctors to view an area of study from multiple angles.
- What are some reasons an MRI may not be for me?
Patients with metallic materials, such as the following, may not be good candidates for an MRI:
- Heart and blood vessel devices such as a coronary artery stent, a pacemaker, an ICD (implantable carioverter-defibrillator), or a metal heart valve
- Metal pins, clips, or metal parts in your body, including artificial limbs
- Braces and other dental work
- Metal implants
Women who are pregnant, or suspect they might be pregnant, should inform their doctors. The reason for this is that there is little known about how the magnetic fields used during an MRI scan can affect the fetus.
Other things you should make your doctor aware of include:
- Recent blood vessel surgery
If you are unsure, please consult your doctor.
- What are some of the risks of an MRI?
There are no known side-effects of having an MRI scan. Unlike X-rays, an MRI scan uses no radiation, however, the strong magnetic field can result in an unclear image or cause bodily damage if there are any metallic materials within the body. For this reason, it is vital that you inform your doctor of any metal materials that you know or are unsure of within your body.
- What makes an Upright MRI better than a conventional MRI?
Most structures in the body are positioned or act differently when the patient is in a standing or sitting position. An example of one of these structures is the spine, which is highly affected when bearing weight. In order to be able to accurately diagnose or find a problem, some areas simply must be scanned when the patient is in an upright position, which only an Upright MRI can accomplish.
- May someone stay with me during my MRI?
Yes. It is important to us that you feel comfortable during your scan. Friends and family members may be in the same room with you, sit next to you and even hold your hand during your scan. However, as with the patient, it is important for those who accompany you to inform us of any possible metallic materials they may have in their body. We strive to make your experience with us as quick and pleasant for you as possible.
- What can I expect a standing MRI to be like?
MRI scans typically last for around 30 minutes; however, some scans may take about an hour.
- Before your scan, you may be asked to change into a hospital gown and to remove all jewelry.
- During your scan, it is vital that you stay as still as possible. Movement can result in unclear images. As you are being scanned, you will hear the machine making knocking noises. These are normal and we will provide you with earplugs, headphones and music. We will also provide you with pillows and blankets to help make you more comfortable. If you find yourself becoming anxious, you can speak directly to us through a microphone system and we will do whatever we can to help you feel relaxed.
- There are multiple upright positions that you may be asked to stand or sit in, depending on what your physician is looking for. You may simply be asked to sit down and relax, maybe watch TV, as you’re scanned.
- After the scan, how long can I expect to wait before finding out result?
After your MRI scan, a radiologist must interpret the images and then pass their interpretations on to your physician. Your physician will then contact you to explain theirs and the radiologist's findings. The length of this process is dependent on your physician.