Useful Tips for Patients Preparing for an MRI Scan

Useful Tips for Patients Preparing for an MRI Scan

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is one of the most advanced diagnostic ultrasound imaging tools used for the careful evaluation of many medical conditions. Radiologists conduct MRI scanning to diagnose, monitor and treat a variety of injuries and diseases. If you are planning to use MRI scan services in Queens, NY area, make sure to approach a certified radiology clinic that uses state-of-the-art technology to produce high-quality images.

MRI systems use radiofrequency waves and strong magnetic fields (rather than X-rays) to capture remarkably clear and detailed images of soft tissues and internal organs in the body. The diagnostic imaging technique has proven valuable for the diagnosis of pathologic conditions including cancer, heart and vascular disease, stroke, tumors and cysts, diseases of the liver, gallbladder and pancreas, and joint and musculoskeletal disorders in all parts of the body.

As part of the MRI procedure, the patient is placed inside the MRI scanner (typically a large doughnut-shaped device), that is open at both ends. The diagnostic procedure causes no pain and the electromagnetic fields produce no known tissue damage of any specific kind. The scanner may make loud tapping, knocking or other noises at times during the procedure.

How to Prepare for an MRI Exam?

There is no special type of preparation required for the MRI exam (unless and until your physician advises the same). Patients are required to complete a safety screening form and answer questions pertaining to their medical history. Generally, there won’t be any food or drink restrictions and patients can continue to take their prescribed medications (unless directed otherwise by the physician).

Let’s discuss some of the facts patients need to be familiar with before undergoing MRI scanning –

  • Time of arrival – For all open MRI scans, patients should arrive at least 30 minutes prior the scheduled scan time. This will enable them to complete any necessary paper work, change into a gown and discuss or prepare for the examination with the technologist.
  • Drink water – Before initiating the scanning procedure, an IV will be administered into the patient’s arm to administer the contrast. To ensure that the vein is easily located for IV insertion, patients should drink adequate amount of water and keep themselves well hydrated before starting the scanning.
  • Inform physicians (if you are claustrophobic) – Patients who have some degree of claustrophobia or anxiety issues while undergoing an MRI exam should inform their primary care physician or the MRI specialist about the phobia in advance. Physicians can help patients prepare beforehand by explaining the upcoming procedure to them in detail and letting them know what to expect. In some cases, they can prescribe a sedative for the procedure.
  • No metal implants – Certain metallic objects can significantly disrupt MRI imaging and pose health risk to the patient. Prior to the exam, it is important to talk to the physician about any metal implants you may have in your body. Remove all metallic items before undergoing the scanning procedure. Cochlear (ear) implants, clips used for brain aneurysms, metal coils placed within blood vessels, any kind of cardiac defibrillator or pacemaker generally means that patients cannot be placed in an MRI machine. In addition, patients should remove – jewelry, eye glasses, hair pins, watches, dentures, hearing aids and undergarment pins that contain metals.
  • Alert physician about any special health issue – Alert your physician about certain health conditions – like pregnancy, diabetes, kidney problems and allergies (to iodine or gadolinium) before undergoing the scanning procedure.
  • Take medications as normal – Patients should take normal medications before undergoing the procedure (unless otherwise instructed by the physician).
  • Wear lightweight clothing – Patients should try to wear some lightweight, loose fitting and comfortable clothing that is easy to take on and off. Always avoid wearing clothing that has metal snaps, zippers or hooks.
  • Avoid heavy make-up – Certain make-up items contain metal filaments, which could interfere with the MRI scanner and reduce the quality of images that it produces. Make sure to remove all make-up before the procedure.

Some people may find it difficult to relax within the confined space of the MRI scanner, and the noisy clicking of the magnets can increase the feeling of anxiety. Patients are usually advised to take several deep breaths and try closing their eyes, before being placed in the scanner.

In addition, patients can seek permission to see the MRI machine in advance because just seeing the machine and how it operates can help reduce the level of anxiety. Reputable radiology centers in Manhattan, NY area offer open, high field MRI scanners, which eliminate the closed chamber. Patients typically will not have any specific restrictions upon completion of the MRI scanning. In most cases, they can resume normal activities (unless they received sedation).