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Magnetic Resonance Imaging is a safe diagnostic imaging technique which uses a magnetic field and radio waves to produce pictures of your body. X-rays are not used. The MRI scanner sends out radio signals to the hydrogen atoms found in the water molecules in your body. The hydrogen atoms then send back radio signals which are recorded by the MRI scanner. A computer then compiles this information and produces cross-sectional images of your body, very much like slices from a loaf of bread. Doctors are able to see many of your body's internal structures better on MRI than with other techniques. The procedure provides excellent images of soft tissue structures like the brain, spinal cord, muscle and certain internal organs as well as joint anatomy.

What Should I Expect?
The MRI exam can be one of the easiest and most comfortable exams you experience. The technologist will ask you to lie on a cushioned table that will move into the tube-shaped scanner after you have been comfortably positioned. Your technologist will watch you through an observation window and will be able to communicate with you at all times. The scanner makes tapping noises that change with the various imaging sequences. Remaining still during these noises is very important in order to obtain clear images.

When scanning is complete, the technologist will return to help you from the table. You may eat normal meals unless other tests are scheduled. Your exam will take about 30 to 60 minutes, after which you will be able to return to your normal activities.

How Should I Prepare?
Usually there are no special preparations or diet instructions prior to your MRI exam. You should continue medications prescribed by your doctor unless informed otherwise. You may be asked to change into a hospital gown to eliminate the chance of artifacts from your clothing. Any metal such as earrings, eyeglasses, or hairpins should be removed. Women should also refrain from wearing hairspray or makeup and should always inform their technologist if there is any possibility of pregnancy. You should also avoid drinking coffee or other caffeinated beverages prior to scanning so you are able to lie quietly for the duration of the exam.

Please inform your doctor or the technologist if you have any of the following that may prevent you from undergoing an MRI exam:

  • Pacemaker
  • History of working with metal
  • Brain aneurysm clips
  • History of injury during military service
  • Metallic plate, pin, or other implant

Why do some MRI procedures require an injection (contrast)?
MRI scans are painless, but some exams require an injection of a “contrast” agent to make some abnormalities easier to see. MRI contrast is an organically bound gadolinium material that is extremely safe and typically has no side effects. However, there is always the potential for allergic reaction. Be sure to tell your technologist if you’ve had a reaction to MRI contrast or if you are particularly sensitive to medications.

Why does Lucien only offer a closed MRI?
With the utmost concern for patient health and reporting accuracy, Lucien performs MRI procedure in a “closed” unit only. The level of imaging detail necessary to provide the radiologist with the best information for interpretation is provided only by the closed MRI unit.

It is only in the cases of extreme claustrophobia or physical size complications, that we recommend a patient choose to have an “open” MRI procedure. Our staff will recommend locations for patients that seek this option.

How Do I Get the Results?
After your study is over, a radiologist will review and evaluate your exam. Both a preliminary and final report will be sent to your doctor, who can then discuss the results with you in detail. Often, for more immediate situations, our radiologists will speak directly with your referring physician to discuss the result of the imaging procedure.

At any time before or after your procedure, our radiologists are happy to provide one-on-one consultations with you.

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