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What to Expect Before, During, and After Your MRI

Mar 02, 2024
What to Expect Before, During, and After Your MRI
Diagnostic medicine is vital to confirming conditions and often how far along an illness is to help in treating it. Magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, is a valuable tool in diagnostic imaging, and if you’re getting one here’s what to expect.

The ability to see into the body through medical imaging has been an invaluable resource in diagnosing injuries and illnesses, and the idea goes back as far as the late 1800s with Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen’s discovery of the X-ray. Other forms of medical imaging have been around for decades like ultrasound being used as far back as 1956 and computed tomography (CT) performing the first brain scan in 1971.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) goes as far back as 1977, and is an essential part of medical imaging, being done 37 million times a year. If you’re getting an MRI, you should know what to expect from the procedure, so let’s examine what this device is, common reasons for having it done, and look at what that experience is like.

If you live in the Norwood, Anderson and Westside, Ohio, or Crestview Hills, Kentucky, area and you have a diagnostic test like an MRI coming up, the team of specialists at Riverhills Neuroscience can help.

Understanding what an MRI is

Magnetic resonance is the emission or absorption of electromagnetic radiation, which is done by atomic nuclei or electrons responding to magnetic fields being applied in physics. The research that made this possible goes back to 1944 when physicist Yevgeny Zavoisky experimented with electron spin resonance (ESP), and over the decades the technology developed from it has led to MRI devices. 

MRI scanners are tube shaped, very large magnets that create a magnetic field that interacts with radio waves to create images of your body’s organs and tissue. When viewed from different angles, this device can even create 3D images to get an even better view of different parts of the body.

Reasons for getting one

The detailed images MRIs can produce are essential for getting information on structures in your body, such as your brain, chest and abdominal tissue, spine, pelvic organs, lymph nodes, and blood vessels. This can help with diagnosing a multitude of medical problems, including:

  • Brain and spinal conditions: this can be used to scan for brain tumors, aneurysms, traumatic brain and spinal injuries, stroke, pinched nerves, and multiple sclerosis
  • Cardiac problems: MRIs can evaluate heart valves, chambers, and blood flow, diagnose tumors and infections, and show the effects of cardiovascular disease
  • Tumors and abnormalities: we can use MRIs to show tumors in the chest, abdomen, or pelvis, liver disease, bowel disease, and vasculitis
  • Bones and joints: we can examine your bones and joints for damage from injuries, abnormalities, tumors, and bone infections with MRIs

What to expect from the procedure

Before your MRI even starts, preparation may be necessary to check for specific illnesses or abnormalities. For pelvic or abdominal scans, fasting may be required (up to five hours prior to the MRI), and other considerations can be made for eating and drinking before things start, including sedation.

At the appointment, you will wear a cotton gown and remove any metal objects before getting inside the MRI. Next, you’ll get on the MRI table and be moved into the machine and be contacted by your provider via intercom during the scan. Once the device starts up, you’ll hear clicking and beeping noises which can be offset by earplugs if they get too loud. The scan itself can take up to 90 minutes depending on what is being examined, and the area being looked at may feel warm once it’s finished.

After the scan is complete, you’ll wait to make sure the results are clear, in case something needs to be redone. If everything is usable, you’re free to go and get back to your day.

MRIs are a safe, noninvasive way to get important information for diagnostic evaluation, and if you need one, make an appointment with the expert team at Riverhills Neuroscience today.