Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is MRI and how does it work?
A: MRI stands for magnetic resonance imaging. The MRI scanner uses magnets, radio waves and computers to produce very clear images of the human anatomy. MRI depicts soft tissue anatomy far better than other diagnostic imaging equipment without use of harmful radiation.

Q: What do I have to do to prepare myself for an MRI?
A: Preparing for an MRI exam is easy. Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, you may take your medications as usual. There are no food or drink restrictions. Before having your scan you will be screened for items that cannot be allowed into the MRI scan room such as credit cards, hearing aids, hair pins, cell phones, watches, etc. We provide scrubs or gowns for you to wear as needed.

Q: What will happen during the MRI?
A: When you are ready to have your MRI exam, a technologist will escort you into the scan room and you will have an opportunity to ask questions. You will then be positioned, as comfortable as possible, on a padded table that will move into the machine until the area to be scanned is at the center of the magnetic field. You will hear knocking, drumming type sounds as the MRI scan is being acquired. The technologist will be in contact with you throughout the process.

Q: Why is the scanner so noisy?
A: The scanner works with strong magnetic fields. Inside of the MRI machine there are parts called gradients. During a scan the gradients turn on & off so fast that they create a sound. In most cases, you will be offered ear plugs or head phones with music to enjoy during the exam.

Q: How long will the MRI take?
A: MRI scans are individualized and tailored to each patient's needs. Normally, each exam takes between 20 to 60 minutes.

Q: Is there any risk to having an MRI?
A: MRI is very safe, however, prior to going into the scanner you will be thoroughly screened by a qualified member of our staff. People with the following may not have an MRI:
* Pacemakers
* Certain aneurysm clips
* Defibrillators * certain Neurostimulators
* Certain implants or foreign bodies that are not MRI safe

Q: Is it o.k. to have an MRI if I am pregnant?
A: It has not been shown that MRI is harmful to unborn children. However, you must first consult with your physician before having an MRI scan.

Q: Will I be getting an injection?
A: In certain situations, it may be necessary to inject a patient with a contrast agent in order for the proper diagnosis to be made. The contrast agent is usually injected into a vein in the arm using a small butterfly� needle. If you are having an MR Arthrogram, a radiologist will inject contrast into the affected joint. If you are breast feeding, we recommend that you suspend nursing for 24 hours after receiving a contrast injection.

Q: I am scheduled for an MR Arthrogram. Is the procedure painful?
A: During the injection of contrast you may feel some pressure or discomfort as the joint is distended. The sensation is temporary and should pass within 4-6 hours after the procedure. Some soreness may be present at the injection site for up to 24 hours. You may resume regular activities immediately after the procedure, however, the radiologist will recommend that you limit strenuous or “stress-bearing” activities on the affected joint for 24 hours following the procedure.

Q: What if I am claustrophobic and don’t like to be in enclosed spaces?
A: Our center was first in the entire Tennessee valley to offer open mri and our staff is very experienced in working with claustrophobic patients. You may come before your appointment and tour the facility to become better acquainted with the scanning process. A friend or family member (who has been screened for internal/external metal) may also accompany you into the scanner room. You may request a mild sedative prescription from your doctor prior to your appointment and arrange for someone else to driveyou home.

Q: Do I need to lie very still?
A: Yes, as still as you can. The more still that you are during the scan, the better the images will come out. Movement causes blurring of the images. The technologist will monitor the pictures throughout the exam and work with you to optimize results. However, if you move too much, the pictures will be undiagnostic and you will have to reschedule for another MRI exam.

Q: When will I find out the results?
A: You will not find out at the time of the scan. Once your MRI has been completed, the images are analyzed by a radiologist and a comprehensive report is sent to your doctor, normally within 24 hours. In turn, your doctor will explain the results to you. Technologists are not qualified to interpret MR examinations.

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