MRI scan is a sophisticated procedure during and before which many things need to be taken care of. It is a magnetic resonance imaging process which uses magnetic fields and radio waves to generate detailed images of specific internal parts of the body.
Before the scan
It is not very often that there are eating or drinking regulations before a scan but this can, of course, vary according to the body part that you are getting scanned. The radiologist or doctor can instruct you not to eat a few hours before the scan or can tell you to drink a fairly large amount of water. This is dependent on the type of scan you are getting done.
Patients are asked to remove any metallic material beforehand such as watches. Jewelry including necklaces, bracelets, piercing which include ear, nose and nipple piercings, dentures which are false teeth, hearing aids and wigs because they can sometimes contain metallic traces. This is because the process involves strong magnetic fields and metallic materials can distort images.
Other than this, the patient can be asked to wear a hospital gown depending on which body part they have to get scanned. For that one must not wear clothes that have buttons, zippers or even wired bras.
A consent form is signed by the patients before the procedure in cases of anything that could go wrong during the scan. A medical form is also given to the patients who are asked to fill it so that the radiologist can know of any medical conditions and ensure a safe scan.
This is a type of dye which is injected into the body to show some veins or brain parts clearer. It can have a number of side effects like feeling or being sick, dizziness, skin rash or a headache. People with severe kidney disease can suffer from kidney failure due to which the patient must tell the radiologist beforehand if they suffer from such problems like kidney disease or blood clotting issues.
These are given to people who are claustrophobic and have an issue with confined spaces to relax so that they stay still during the scan. Babies and young children are also given general anesthesia because it is hard for them to remain still for longer durations. In this case, a friend or family member must be present with you to drive you home as you cannot drive for the next 24 hours and also need supervision.
During the procedure
The patient is placed on a movable bed then placed into the cylindrical MRI machine. An additional tray can be placed on a specific body part to get clearer images. The person is asked to stay still so that the images are not distorted. This process can last from 15 minutes – 90 minutes again depending on the type of scan. The person is asked to relax for breaks in very long scans and during short scans can be asked to hold their breath. The patient is entered head first or feet first depending on the body part being scanned.
The machine can make loud thumping noises during the scans due to the electric current in the scanner coils being turned off. For these patients are usually given earplugs or even headphones to listen to some music.
The radiologist is present in another room to keep the computer away from the magnetic fields of the MRI machine. A computer is used to operate the machine. One can talk to the radiologist through the intercom at all times and they can also look at you during the process with the help of a monitor. A friend or family member can also be present with you during the scan and has to follow the same clothing regulations and also has to inform if they have any metallic thing present in their bodies such as a pacemaker.
After the scan
It is an outpatient procedure which means you will not have to stay in the hospital and can carry out your daily activities. In the case of sedatives, you must have a friend or family member to drive you home and stay with you for the next 24 hours.