If you’ve never had an MRI, the prospect can be daunting. The procedure involves a large metal tube that may make loud noises or feel claustrophobic. However, MRIs are actually a very common and safe procedure that can have great benefits. The more you know about what to expect when you visit an Atlanta imaging center, the more likely you are to have a smooth process as you undergo these scans.
Many people worry that the MRI will have negative side effects, and while this is possible, it is very rare. Any information you have on how MRIs work and why they may pose risks will help you to feel good about your diagnostic scans.
What Is an MRI For?
MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging. These scans make use of a strong magnetic field and radio waves to produce pictures that are rendered on a computer screen. MRIs are powerful tools for diagnosis because they can show tissues, organs, and other structures inside your body. Where some tests like x-rays can show only single structures like bones, an MRI can give a complete picture of many body parts. For this reason, it can be used to detect abnormalities and tumors in the brain and spinal cords. MRIs are also commonly used to detect sports injuries like torn ligaments.
Preparing for Your MRI
Usually, there is very little you will need to do to prepare for your scan, besides understanding the process and setting your expectations. Because of the use of magnetics, you may need to remove any jewelry or medical devices that contain metal. Their function and position can be impacted by the magnets. If you are not able to remove an item, disclose it to your doctor and radiologist beforehand so they can determine the best option for you.
Once it is time for your scan, you will lie on a small bed that slides into the scanner, which is a large metal tube. A receiving device will be placed on the part of your body to be examined, and you will likely have a speaker or other communication device in the tube with you. In some cases, you may be given an injection of contrast dye to increase the picture quality.
When pictures are being taken, you will need to lie completely still for a couple of minutes to ensure no blurring. The scan is painless as there is little touching your body. The tube may also be very noisy, so you will usually be offered music or headphones. For some people, despite being a safe procedure, the tube can be claustrophobic and cause anxiety; if this may apply to you, speak with your care provider ahead of time to see if there are options for open scan machines or sedation.
Risks of an MRI Scan
Once all medical devices are accounted for and anxiety is controlled, there is no known risk involved in undergoing an MRI scan at a reputable Atlanta imaging center. The scan does not involve radiation like an x-ray, and therefore exposure is not a concern. If you do require medication to help with nerves, you will need to discuss any potential side effects with your doctor. There is also a very slight chance of a reaction to the contrast dye used.
Unless you were sedated, there are no after-effects of the scan and you should be able to continue your day as normal. The typical MRI lasts for 30-90 minutes, which is the biggest drawback. But because there is no exposure to radiation at this time, it is not a concern. A specialist will take the pictures generated by the MRI and interpret them to share with you at a later date.
It is not advised that pregnant women have an MRI scan unless it is urgent. This is not because there are known side effects on a fetus, but as a precaution.
MRI Scans in Atlanta
If you have been told an MRI would be beneficial, do not be scared of the process. MRIs are not known to cause side effects in most people and can be powerful tools to provide an accurate diagnosis. The images generated by an MRI can help diagnose complex and rare conditions, allowing them to be treated quickly and efficiently.
At AICA Orthopedics, we offer a state-of-the-art Atlanta imaging center staffed with experts. Our team of radiologists and doctors will make your MRI process as smooth and efficient as possible, providing not only results but personalized plans to address your conditions. Contact us today!