MRI what to expect

Likely you or someone you know has needed an MRI. Might be interesting to know more about what it is and why someone might need this kind of imaging. 

Photo From: https://www.cancer.gov/publications/dictionaries/cancer-terms/def/mri

Let me start with what MRI stands for: Magnetic resonance imaging.

It always amazes me that big spinning magnets can play such a huge role in helping diagnose a medical problem.

Doctors send patients in for MRI’s for all kinds of health concerns things like organs and the depth of bones can be scanned. They can see very deep details of things like nasal cavities to the whole brain. MRI’s can be used to detect if someone has abnormal tissue or a blockage in their veins. It can even be used to see the capillaries in the brain! I don’t know the medical science behind MRI’s but they can give layered information about the body. The radiologist will look at it and give a report to the doctors. Sometimes the specialist will look too.

Photo from https://www.kjronline.org/ViewImage.php?Type=F&aid=535394&id=F2&afn=68_KJR_16_5_973&fn=kjr-16-973-g002_0068KJR

One of the amazing things I read about was how In Canada they are working with MRI technology to help with treatments in Parkinson patients. It is still in the trial stages where they use the MRI that directs an ultrasound to open the blood-brain barrier to administer medications and treatments right in the brain. This is very key to helping treat certain conditions.

© iStock/Trifonov_Evgeniy Photo on https://www.healtheuropa.eu/extending-the-reach-of-mri-with-new-portable-brain-imaging-scanner/104143/

I read they have even used MRI technology to find out things like dating and finding out medical information from archeologists. They can often find out cool things from the remains, lab and other DNA tests.

If you have never been in an MRI, they are very noisy. Even with earplugs. They are like a construction site. Sometimes it sounds like industrial fans or a wind tunnel. I thought it was like a really bad Tron Video game without the cool light or gameplay. I find the round opening feels like going into a paper towel roll, kinda cold, noisy and cramped. You must stay as still as you can and breathe normally, with a mask due to covid. 

Things to expect. Before you even go in, you will be asked important screening questions. They might seem weird but they are really key to your safety. You will be asked about any metal in your body even tattooed on makeup, clips, surgeries. There are many areas that they use metal that you might not even think about. Implants like glucose meters. 

You will be asked to change out of your clothing including underwear, take off all jewelry, hearing aids, glasses, anything with metal (leave all but my glasses at home). I once asked why, they said “Many fabrics have metal fibers woven in the clothes”. I thought wow, never would have thought about that. Even hair ties can be a problem so I just use a plain rubber band.

You will then be put in a position sometimes with wedges or other things to help you stay in that potion for what seems like forever pending on what they need the image of.  They give you a call bell in case something is not right, they also sometimes will talk to you when you’re in the machine. I will close my eyes or keep them open and think of a tranquil place, I will really think about the small details like how it smells, sights of sounds that I would experience there. Like the beach on a warm day. My friend is from India and I say “think about how the roses look and smell or how the air smells when the jasmine flowers open”. 

Some people are lucky enough to have a nap in their MRI others have a harder time. If small spaces are not a positive place for you or cause you anxiety you might want to talk to your doctor about medications that might aid you through the process

Other things that can be a setback are if you are a bigger body type you might feel very uncomfortable. Please advocate for yourself. One of the singers I really enjoy just had a negative experience due to her shape trying to get her MRI. You have a right to be as comfortable and you can be in any medical experience. MRIs are not the most comfortable medical process to begin with.

You also can feel a bit weird after being still in one position for sometimes 45 min more or less. When many people I know have had their spine done they felt sore and really weird after. It seems to jar the inside even though the motions in and out of the machine are smooth, the big magnets move quite fast inside the tube you are in.

Photo from: https://www.pearl-technology.ch/en/nuclearmedicine

To be an MRI tech requires many years of school, you need a background in science before you can train to work in the MRI department. It can take 1 To four years depending on the program with a practicum. And many prerequisites. 

I hope you are still able to enjoy what you love, the last few weeks have been a new set of covid lockdowns in my part of the world. It’s a good thing I love writing my blog, I can do that from the comfort of my own home. Take care till next week.

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