Open MRI: Exams & Preparation

What is an MRI?

MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging, which is a non-invasive, radiation-free scanning technology that uses radio frequency waves and magnetic fields to produce clear and detailed three-dimensional images of the body.

About the Procedure:

MRI can be used to identify or precisely locate an injury or abnormality, to scan for developing problems or analyze damage from previous injuries and to aid in the planning of surgery. MRI produces images of any area of the body and can be an invaluable tool for detecting tumors, infection, cancer and damage to the eye and inner ear, nervous system, heart and blood vessels, joint and musculoskeletal systems, major organs and male and female reproductive systems. Unlike x-rays, radio isotopes and CT scanning, MRI uses radio frequency waves. Radio waves detect differences in water concentration and distribution in various body tissues.

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What to expect when you’re having an MRI:

The MRI exam is painless.  You will be asked to lie down on a comfortable, padded table, which will be positioned in the scanner.  While in the scanner, the machine will produce a knocking noise.  The technician will be able to observe you throughout the exam.  If you should need anything, you will be able to communicate with the technician at all times via a two-way intercom. The exam should take between 30 to 60 minutes for most exams.

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Special considerations and precautions:

Because MRI requires the use of magnetic fields, patients will be asked to remove all metal objects. You must also be sure that prior to the exam you inform the staff of any implants or devices with a metal component and any injuries you may have sustained where metal has been lodged in your body. All Patients are given a screening questionnaire to evaluate their ability to perform the exam.

The magnetic field is not just inside of the equipment, it affects the entire exam room, and because the magnet is always on, there are certain people that cannot enter the room at any time. If you wish, a family member or friend may be able to sit close by you in the scanning room, if it is safe for them to enter the room. Everyone who wishes to enter the exam room will be carefully evaluated prior to entering to ensure their safety.

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What if I need contrast?

Sometimes an I.V. contrast is required for better visualization. San Gabriel Valley Diagnostic Center uses the safest non-ionic I.V. contrast on the market.

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What if I am claustrophobic or need an open MRI?

People with claustrophobia may feel uncomfortable in a traditional or “closed” MRI unit because they must lie still within the scanning magnet. Sedatives may be given for patients who experience difficulty in the confined space. Patients requiring sedation are required to have someone accompany them. San Gabriel Valley Diagnostic Center features an “open” MRI unit that does not enclose the patient to alleviate this problem.

Click here to learn more about MRI.

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