According to Medtronic, 30 million people get an MRI each year which means it’s highly likely that you may need an MRI scan at some point in your life. It’s important to stay updated and have a firm grasp on MRIs which is why we created a blog to explain some of the frequently asked questions about these seemingly popular scans. After all, it’s never too soon to be prepared or simply informed about commonplace procedures.
What is an MRI?
Magnetic resonance imaging is a test that uses a magnetic field to create a photo of organs and different structures in your body. In order to receive an MRI, you have to lay or stand (depending on the machine) in a machine and stay still for the duration of the scan. It is a painless, non-intrusive process that can take anywhere from 10 minutes up to 2 hours.
2. How Long is an MRI?
This heavily depends on the area that is being scanned and if you will received contrast for your exam (if you receive contrast, you will have to wait for the effects to settle in). Most scans range anywhere from 10-60 minutes. Speak with the location you will be visiting to get an exact time frame on your exam.
3. Will I be exposed to radiation?
No. These scans do not emit any radiation and there are currently no known side effects of an MRI. The only caution with undergoing an MRI is to not wear any metal jewelry and bring any metal objects into the scanning room as the MRI utilizes a strong magnet.
4. Are there different machines?
There are several types of MRI machines that you can choose between depending on your center’s availability and the area needed to be examined. High-Field Open MRI is open on both sides which is perfect for anyone with anxiety, claustrophobia, broad shoulders, etc. The Open Upright MRI has a completely open front which is great for those that either does not wish to lay down or their weight restricts them from a traditional MRI scanner. The High-Field Wide-Bore MRI is wider than a traditional scanner and scans are completed faster than others which are perfect for those worried about spending a lengthy amount of time inside the machine.
These types have closed bores, just as the name implies. These machines can be the least comfortable for patients and some even experience a feeling of claustrophobia due to the “closed” tube shape. Although it may not be the most comfortable, closed MRI’s tend to have the best clarity of images. Because of the shape and structure, the machine can have a higher magnetic strength (generally somewhere between 1.0T & 3.0T), and higher-clarity images are transitively produced.
Again, just as the name implies, these types of MRI’s have an open bore/structure. So as opposed to the closed MRI’s, there is no tube that a patient has to feel trapped in. Instead, the patient lies on a surface that is in between two flat magnets that is open with plenty of elbow room on all sides. This is a great option for patients who are claustrophobic, need additional comfort or support, or have physical constraints that limit them from the closed machines.
Wide Bore MRI’s
This machine is like a happy medium of the closed and open MRI machines. It is wider than the closed MRI, giving the patient more space, but it’s also not as completely open as the open MRI’s. This is the machine Goldilocks would probably use since it isn’t too closed nor too open, but “just right”.
5. What are common reasons to get an MRI?
If a problem is found during an x-ray, ultrasound, or CT scan, an MRI can be called into play because an MRI can provide further information that other images cannot provide. An MRI provides a detailed picture of the surroundings of bone tissue, which is helpful for questions related to the brain, spinal cord, lungs, chest, pelvis, ligaments, cartilage, discs, etc. According to Spine-health, they are even useful to rule out infection or tumor, differentiate scar tissue from recurrent disc herniation, and to rule out the risk of injecting a steroid into a tumor or infection.
6. Where can I book an MRI?
Our team of board-certified radiologists at Bay Imaging Consultants read for dozens of locations across Northern California. If you’re in need of an MRI or your doctor recommended you to undergo this scan, feel free to contact any of our MRI locations to book your appointment asap.
All of us at BICRAD want to ensure that you’re able to get the facts straight before coming to your appointment. We understand that MRIs can seem scary or even confusing if you haven’t learned the basics, which is the last thing you want when dealing with your upcoming medical appointment. Everyone feels comforted when the facts are clearly stated and there is no confusion. If you or someone you know is in need of an MRI, contact us! We would love to help and make sure your experience is a positive one!