Frequent Asked Questions
WHAT IS AN MRI?
An MRI is an imaging technique that produces detailed pictures of internal organs and tissues. The images are created through the use of magnetic fields and radio waves. For some procedures a contrast agent (Gadolinium) is used to increase the detail of the images.
CAN ANYONE HAVE AN MRI SCAN?
Almost anyone can have an MRI. Although MRI is a non-invasive procedure that does not use any X-Ray radiation, it does require the use of a high strength magnetic field.
ARE THERE ANY RISKS INVOLVED WITH HAVING AN MRI?
People with pacemakers cannot undergo a MRI scan, also other metallic implants, aneurysm clips, bullet fragments and all prosthetics will need to be checked before a person with these would be scanned. Some tattoos and permanent eyeliner may be heated during a scan. Our staff will go over any of these issues with you before your test.
CAN SOMEONE WHO IS PREGNANT UNDERGO AN MRI SCAN?
MRI is generally avoided in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. If after this time all physicians involved in your care and our radiologist determine it is absolutely medically necessary and is beneficial, then you may have an MRI.
HOW CAN I PREPARE FOR AN MRI PROCEDURE?
It is best to wear loose comfortable clothing with no metal. You may be asked to change into a hospital gown for some procedures. It is best to wear no jewelry, as you will need to remove it for the test. Please keep makeup to a minimum, some products contain metallic flakes that could cause a patients skin to heat up and also cause artifacts that will degrade the images.
CAN I EAT BEFORE MY EXAM?
Yes.The only MRI procedure that has a restriction is a MRCP exam. This is a special exam of your abdomen that requires you to not eat or drink for 6 hours before your test.
HOW LONG DOES AN MRI TAKE?
Depending on the test you are having done and what system you are on, anywhere from 15 minutes to 45 minutes.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN DURING THE TEST?
MRI is a noisy test. Normally ear protection is given to help block some of the noise. You may feel the table vibrate and move occasionally during the test. It is very important to hold extremely still for the entire test. If you are claustrophobic or in severe pain you may want to ask your referring physician about medication to help get you through the test.
IS A CAT SCAN PAINFUL?
CT scanning is painless. An injection of contrast may be required.
WILL A CONTRAST INJECTION BE GIVEN?
Not in all cases. Contrast is not used for scan of the spine or sinuses. Contrast may be required for other scans. Please inquire when making the booking.
IS THE CONTRAST SAFE?
At MRI Associates, we use only non-ionic contrast that is the safest product available. A sensation of heat, a metallic taste or smell or a sensation in the bladder may be experienced for less than a minute after the injection. Nausea and vomiting are uncommon with non-ionic contrast. There is a small possibility of an allergic reaction. Patients with a history of allergies or asthma may be given a short course of prednisone before contrast is administered. If a reaction occurs, emergency equipment and medications are available.
IS BREAST-FEEDING SAFE AFTER AN INJECTION OF I.V. CONTRAST?
There are no known harmful effects of I.V. Contrast in breast milk however as a precaution it is preferable to refrain from breast-feeding for 24 hours. Formula or expressed milk can be given to your baby during this period.
CAN CT BE USED IN PREGNANCY?
Our policy is to avoid scanning during pregnancy unless there is a medically urgent indication. Please inform your physician if you are pregnant or if there is even the remote possibility that you may be pregnant.
WHY IS ORAL CONTRAST USED?
Scans of the abdomen and pelvis are easier to interpret if there is dilute barium in the bowel.
HOW IS THE BARIUM OR I.V. CONTRAST ELIMINATED FROM THE BODY?
The I.V. Contrast is filtered unchanged by the kidneys with most of the administered dose appearing in the urine within a few hours. Orally administered barium passes through the intestine and is not absorbed.
ARE THE X-RAYS USED IN A CT SCAN HARMFUL?
X-Rays are ionizing radiation and as such can alter chemical structure. In diagnostic imaging, the radiation dose is small and confined to the region of interest. The small risk associated with the procedure is outweighed by the benefit of the results from the test.
IS AN ESCORT ALLOWED IN THE ROOM?
In most cases, no. For examinations on children, an escort can stay in the CT scan room during the procedure. A lead gown will be provided to the escort.
WHAT IF YOU ARE CLAUSTROPHOBIC?
Although not as big an issue as with MRI, Claustrophobia may be a problem with CT and you may require sedation before the scan. Please inform the staff beforehand if you suffer from claustrophobia.
HOW LONG DOES THE SCAN TAKE?
This varies from half an hour for most scans (e.g. of the head, spine, sinuses and chest) up to an hour and a half for abdominal or pelvic scans. (With abdominal and pelvic scans, orally administered contrast is required during the hour leading up to the actual scan.)
WILL THERE BE ANY AFTER EFFECTS?
No. Normal eating and activity may resume immediately after a CT scan.