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What to Expect When You’re Having an MRI

Patients may be recommended to have an MRI – or magnetic resonance imaging test – for many reasons. Some of these include an injury or issue with the brain, spine, inner ear, eyes or cerebral vessels. MRI tests may also be performed on other parts of the body, but this is less common. Whatever the reason you might have been assigned this test, it’s important to know what you’ll encounter during the examination and how to prepare for it. Knowing what will happen will help you be less nervous on test day, and help your practitioner get the best possible result.

What Happens During an MRI?

An MRI machine looks like a long, hollow metal tube in which a patient will be placed on a special table. During the test, you may be required to wear headgear for imaging purposes. While you are examined, a strong magnetic field will be used to create accurate images of the inside of the areas being surveyed, including your brain, spinal cord another relevant imagery. While this is painless, the noise created by the rotation within the machine is very loud, and may cause headaches in some patients. Oftentimes, ear plugs, headphones with music or other devices are provided to make this part of the experience more pleasant.

Depending on why you are having your MRI, you may be required to receive an injection of dye before or during your test. The test takes about thirty to forty-five minutes on average, and is an outpatient procedure involving no anesthesia or hospitalization.

How Can I Prepare for My MRI?

Your radiologist or technician will need to know if you have certain ailments, conditions or concerns to modify your test properly and ensure your safety and wellbeing. These include but are not limited to:

  • Pacemaker, TENS unit, aneurysm clips, insulin pump or other device, metal substance or prosthesis installed on or inside your body.
  • A history of diabetes or kidney issues.
  • Tattoos on the skin, piercings or dermal implants.
  • Pregnancy.
  • Allergy to any dyes, medications or topical ointments.
  • Claustrophobia.

If you are concerns or have any questions about your MRI, don’t hesitate to reach out to your doctor or members of the staff of the imaging center where your test will be conducted.

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