What is an MRI scan?
What is the purpose of an MRI scan?
- To detect any kind of abnormalities in the brain and spinal cord
- To diagnose disorders in the eyes and inner ears
- To assess the heart and blood vessels
- To detect abnormalities of other internal organs such as the kidneys, liver, uterus, pancreas etc.
- To detect the site, size, extent and spread of tumours
- To evaluate joints, disc problems etc
- To evaluate the treatment outcome
What is MRI with contrast?
What are the risks of an MRI scan?
Since powerful magnets are used in the MRI machine, it is important to remove any metallic object from your body before you undergo an MRI scan. If you have metallic components implanted in your body (metallic clips, joint prosthesis, cochlear implants, bullets or nails) there is a risk of them moving within the body and causing harm to other body structures. You can still undergo an MRI scan if these metallic devices are certified as MRI-safe.
You need to inform your doctors about your kidney and liver problems in advance as it may limit the use of contrast agents during the procedure.
You must also inform your doctor if you suspect that you’re pregnant or are currently breastfeeding. It is unclear if MRI has any adverse impact on your unborn child, but your doctor may prescribe another imaging technique or postpone the imaging if you are pregnant.
How do I prepare for an MRI scan?
You will be asked to wear a hospital gown instead of your regular clothing before MRI. You will be required to remove all metallic objects from your body, which includes all jewellery, dentures, watches, spectacles, hearing aids, wired bras, hairpins etc.
You need to inform your doctors in advance about metal-containing objects or medical devices implanted in your body. These include –
- Heart pacemaker or defibrillator
- Metallic joint prostheses
- Cochlear or any other implants
- Aneurysm clips and coils
- Metal fragments in your body
- Electronic or implanted stimulators such as deep brain stimulators or bladder stimulators
- Filters like blood clot filters etc.
You should inform your doctor if you have medicine patches, continuous glucose monitors or insulin pumps attached to your body. Also tell them if you are pregnant, unable to lie on your back for 30 to 60 minutes or if you are claustrophobic.
What happens during an MRI scan?
How do I overcome claustrophobia while undergoing an MRI scan?
Being inside the MRI room may be claustrophobic for some people. To overcome claustrophobia, keep your eyes closed. Using a blanket was shown to be helpful for some people to overcome claustrophobia. In addition, you could use earplugs to block the sounds or listen to music while the procedure is underway.
In case you face severe difficulties, your doctor may be able to give you a mild sedative that helps you relax.