I Haven’t Had an MRI – So Help Me Understand What It’s Like.

Remember going someplace when you were a child and being told to stop fidgeting and stay still. All of a sudden, it was the hardest thing in the world to do.

Fortunately, we’re not called upon to stay still too often as adults, but it actually is an important part of having an MRI. However, knowing what to expect from this exam can help put you at ease and make the time it takes to have this important scan zoom right by.

 

What is an MRI machine like?

There was a time all MRI machines had that bullet-like look. However, new technology has allowed for very high quality MRI’s to be more open, with shorter “tubes” that are more like the donut-shaped CT scanner. Lake Medical Imaging’s Wide Bore MRI offers new dimensions in patient comfort for all patients, with the ability to capture high-quality diagnostic images.

You may have heard MRIs can be pretty loud. We’ll give you earphones or ear plugs to help reduce the noise – and because it’s pretty monotonous, some patients actually fall asleep.

How do I communicate during the scan?

Once you are situated, your technologist will go to the MRI control room which has a window. He or she will see everything that’s going on, and you will be able to talk to each other. There is also an “emergency” or “panic” button in the machine that you can press at any time if you feel you cannot complete the test, and the technologist will have you off of the table within seconds.

So, why do you have to stay still?

Although MRI machines work quickly and are able to take a number of pictures in a short amount of time, they are not quick enough to avoid blurring if you move during the scan. If the image is blurred, it may have to be retaken. The goal is to get the clearest-possible images so your doctor can make the most accurate possible diagnosis. That means the best possible treatment plan.

How does an MRI differ from an X-Ray or CT?

The primary difference is that an MRI uses a magnetic field instead of x-ray beams. An x-ray uses a small amount of radiation from one direction. A CT Scanner uses multiple x-ray while x-ray detectors rotate around you for more detail. An MRI, on the other hand, creates a strong magnetic field around your body that causes the hydrogen protons in your body to align. The MRI then sends out radio waves that “knock” the hydrogen protons out of alignment, and as they re-align, they send out their own electric signals, which are picked up by the MRI computer and converted into detailed images.

MRI’s are better than CT Scans at imaging organs and soft tissues (like those in the brain and along the spinal cord).

No radiation is used. However, since an MRI is a huge magnet, Lake Medical Imaging’s staff will make certain you are MRI safe – with no metal such as pacemakers or even piercings to be concerned about.

It’s important to know that Lake Medical Imaging’s diagnostic imaging centers in The Villages and Leesburg have been named Diagnostic Imaging Centers of Excellence by the American College of Radiology.

And while that may not keep you from wanting to fidget during your exam, it will ease your mind.

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