When your doctors need to diagnose the cause of your pain or injury, they often use a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan. MRIs are used to take pictures of the inside of your body when the cause of pain is not identifiable from the outside alone.
An MRI machine is a long cylindrical device that contains several powerful magnets. These magnets emit radio waves that temporarily realign the hydrogen atoms in your body. The atoms produce a signal, which can be captured in images taken by the machine.
An MRI scan can be a little intimidating if you’ve never experienced it before. We want to help put your worries to rest with these five details about what to expect during an MRI scan:
- You’ve got to get rid of the metal — Since an MRI uses powerful magnets, metal can become a safety hazard. This is not something to take lightly. The magnets can turn any small metallic object into a dangerous projectile.
Your technician will ask you to remove any metallic objects, but it’s best to just show up in a t-shirt and sweatpants or gym shorts so you don’t have to worry about this sort of thing. Leave the jewelry or clothing with metal in it at home.
- You must lie still — One of the benefits of an MRI is it produces a three-dimensional image of your body. To do this, the magnets must rotate to capture images from different angles. Any movement on your part can alter the outcome of these images.
You will have to remain as still as possible when the magnets are capturing images. Your technician will let you know when it’s okay to move and when you need to hold still.
- You’re not alone — Often, an MRI scan takes several minutes to an hour. Since no one else can be in the room during the scan, it can feel a little lonely. Fortunately, the technician works from the other side of a large window with a speaker system, so you can see and hear each other during the procedure.
Some clinics also provide a “help switch” you can press if you are feeling uncomfortable or ill.
- You’re going to hear some noises — Rotating large, powerful magnets is not a quiet task. It’s normal to hear banging and clicking during an MRI scan. However, this is loud and can become tiresome after a few minutes. Many clinics make up for this by providing hearing protection.
- Medication can help if you need it — If you experience claustrophobia in small spaces like an MRI machine, tell the technician. You may have the option to take a sedative to help you relax while you undergo the MRI scan.
Visit iRISE Spine and Joint for an MRI
Do you need an MRI to help diagnose the cause of your pain? Do you have questions or concerns about the MRI procedure? Contact us today to speak with one of our dedicated patient care coordinators to learn more about MRIs or to schedule an appointment.