Kenneth W. Chin (M.D., F.A.C.R.) gives expert video advice on: Is MRI painful?; Is getting MRI safe?; Why do I need to tell the radiologist if I have metal in or on my body when getting an MRI? and more...
What does 'MRI' stand for?
MRI stands for Magnetic Resonate Imaging.
How does MRI differ from an X-ray?
MRI is different from X-rays, in that, no ionizing radiation is used. Instead, the magnetic field that a patient is placed into in a MRI scanner, will orient the atoms within the body, or body part, and then these can be then manipulated with radio frequency waves, which are not related to X-rays.
Is MRI painful?
MRI is not painful to most patients. Some patients can have back problems or back pain and they will be required to lie on a table during the course of the examination. Other individuals may have very, very sensitive ears and there is a banging noise that occurs during the course of the examination. We will be able to provide you however, with ear protection and earplugs in order to make that more comfortable.
Who is qualified to perform MRI?
An MRI scan is performed by an MRI technologist. Similar to x-ray technologists performing x-ray examinations. These are individuals who are specifically trained to use the equipment and use the equipment safely.
How long does MRI last?
An MRI scan lasts between 15 and 45 minutes typically, more complicated examinations could take longer.
In what circumstances would I need to have MRI done?
An MRI examination can be the imaging modality of choice in some instances. This will be determined by a consultation between the radiologist and your treating physician. Examples can include instances where you may need to take a look at your knee. Many sports figures who have had injuries to their knee have requred an MRI scan in order to see a detailed view of, for instance, their menisci. There are other instances in which parts of the brain, or the spine, or other body parts can be better visualized with MRI than other radiology procedures.
Is getting MRI safe?
MRI is by and large a very, very safe procedure. However, you must notify the MRI technologist if you have some of the following conditions: if you have a heart valve that is artificial, if you have a heart pace-maker, or if you have had any surgery where some particular metal components may have been placed into your body, or if you happen to be in an occupation or have had an accident where some metal may have entered into your eye.
Why do I need to tell the radiologist if I have metal in or on my body when getting an MRI?
It is very important for you to notify the radiologist or the MRI technologist if there is any possibility that there are any metal components in your body because you're entering into a very high field-strength magnet. These can be either shifted, or pulled, or heated. If you have a cardiac pacemaker what can happen is, it can cause the pacemaker to dysfunction or it can heat up the wires.
What can I expect when getting MRI?
When a patient has an MRI examination, the patient lies on a table which is then moved into the MRI unit. At that point they may be placed into a specific kind of a restraining unit in order to hold that body part still or in order to allow us to get more detailed pictures of that particular body part. You may also hear some loud banging noises which is the radio frequency signal being turned on and off.
How does someone with claustrophobia get through MRI?
Patients who are claustrophobic should notify the technologist that they may have a problem in this area. Medications can occasionally be given in the appropriate circumstances to help you through the examination.
Do I need to tell the radiologist if I am pregnant or breast feeding when getting an MRI?
If you are pregnant or, if you are breast feeding, you need to tell the MRI technologist so that we can identify whether or not it is appropriate or not to proceed with the examination. There is a potential risk to the developing foetus, with placing you in a high-field magnet. Your doctor, in consultation with the radiologist, will make a determination as to whether or not it is appropriate for you to continue with your examination. If you are breast feeding, you should also tell your technologist because, occasionally, we will be injecting some medications into your veins.