Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
When an X-ray or CT scan can't give your provider enough information to make an accurate diagnosis, an MRI can help. It gives your provider a clear picture of your bones, organs and tissues inside your body without having to do surgery.
Safe, reliable imaging
An MRI is a non-invasive diagnostic imaging exam that produces images of your soft tissue, bone and muscle using a large magnet, radio waves and computers. This state-of-the-art technology allows detailed images of your body without exposure to radiation.
Tri-County Health Care's advanced MRI capabilities offer tremendous benefits to you, including:
Personalized Exams — You can receive exams tailored to your specific body type and needs while maximizing comfort.
Greater Diagnostic Confidence — This leading-edge technology provides diagnostic confidence with high-quality images and a range of clinical applications that can help you to respond to treatment early.
Faster Speed & Enhanced Comfort — With a wider design, our MRI reduces the closed-in feeling of traditional MRIs. The short magnet also allows for many exams to be performed with your head outside of the system, helping to alleviate concerns of claustrophobia.
Aesthetic Comfort — Our beautiful ceiling-scape and personal music capabilities allow you to rest in comfort during your exam, helping to reduce anxiety.
How does an MRI work?
Most of our body is made up of water, which contains hydrogen and oxygen atoms. Normally, the hydrogen’s center (proton nucleus) points in random directions, depending upon other chemicals in the body, the earth’s magnetic field, etc.
When a patient is placed in the MRI scanner, some of the hydrogen’s protons align temporarily with the new magnetic field. A radio wave, similar to those you listen to at home or in the car, is passed through the body. This temporarily alters the alignment of the protons, causing them to emit a small radio wave. Computers “tune in” to these signals from the body and convert them into an image that can be viewed on a monitor. The image is transferred to X-ray film and becomes a permanent record of your examination.
Metal and magnets
Since MRI uses a strong magnetic field, metal objects in or on the body can be altered or may impair the exam.
What will the exam be like?
You will meet your technologist whose primary concern is your care and well-being. This technologist has completed a rigorous education and training, and works under close supervision of the radiologist to assure the most accurate results.
Prior to the start of your exam, the technologist will explain the procedure to you. This is done to to put your mind at ease and ensure the instructions are clear. Following these instructions will lead to the desired result.
Next, you will be gently positioned and secured on the scan table in an enclosed area. It is important to be secured, since even the slightest movement during imaging can blur the picture and result in the need for repeated scans.
You will need to tell your provider before scheduling your exam if you are claustrophobic so we can help to make your exam more comfortable.
Then, you will be moved into the scanner. The technologist will have you in full view at all times and be in constant communication via two-way microphones. During this time, you will hear the noises of the equipment as it produces the images. You may also feel slight movement of the table.
A contrast media may be required. This is usually given by mouth or injection. It is normal to feel a warm sensation as the dye makes its way through your body. This substance is given to highlight various body parts and is eliminated in a day or two.
How do I prepare for the exam?
Make sure the detailed history form is filled out and signed prior to your exam. If you have a pacemaker, internal pain control units or metal flecks in your eyes from grinding, an MRI is not advised. Talk with your provider if you have any of these.
Clothes without any metal buttons or snaps are acceptable. Remove all makeup, necklaces, earrings and body jewelry. On the day of your exam, please limit the amount of fluids you drink and use the restroom facilities just before your exam begins.
Exams may last from 30 to 90 minutes.
The technologist will position you on a padded table that slides smoothly to the center of the magnet. The technologist can hear and see you at all times and is readily available to assist you at anytime. You will not feel anything but will hear a variety of noises from the scanner as the images are being taken. You may bring a CD or listen to the radio during the exam. It is important that you lie very still for the exam. Your scan may require an intravenous injection of a contrast agent into a vein. After the exam, you will be assisted off the table and may return to your daily schedule.
How will I learn the results?
After your exam is complete, a radiologist will interpret your films and send a report to your physician. This may take one to three days depending on the exam. Your physician will then inform you of the results and any treatment or further testing necessary.
Be sure to inform your doctor or the MRI technologist if you have any of the following:
- Cardiac pacemaker
- Cardiac valve replacement
- Implants – especially in the eyes or ears
- Bone or joint replacement
- Brain surgery with aneurysm clip
- Slivers of metal – especially in the eye
If you have any questions or comments about your examination, please inform the technologist or your provider. These questions will help evaluate your particular situation.