An MRI does not hurt at all; the two biggest downsides are that it is really noisy when you are being scanned and some people feel claustrophobic in an MRI scanning tube. People who have large metal implants, cardiac pacemakers or metal clips around the eyes cannot be scanned using an MRI because of the magnetism.
An MRI scanner consists of a large machine with a tube in the middle of it. The tube is surrounded by a huge magnet.
There is a narrow bed that the patient lies on and the bed moves the patient into and out of the tube. The strong magnetic field aligns the protons of hydrogen atoms, which are then exposed to a special beam of radio waves.
This process spins the various protons of the body that then produce a faint signal detected by the receiver of the MRI. A computer processes all the information to create the 2D cross sectional image.
The images on an MRI film are exceptionally detailed. They can show small changes in the structures of the body. Sometimes a gadolinium contrast agent or other type of contrast may increase the accuracy of the image that comes out of the computer.
MRIs are an extremely accurate way to detect disease in all parts of the body. In cases of brain trauma, bleeding and swelling can be easily detected as well as brain tumors, stroke or spinal inflammation.
An MRI can be used to define the integrity of the spinal cord following trauma and changes in brain structure after trauma. Aortic aneurysms or traumatic tears in the aorta can also be detected.
An MRI scan is very safe. It does not hurt and it avoids the risks of x-ray radiation. The MRI test has no known side effects.
The benefits of an MRI are great in that it is the most accurate test of the structure of body parts and can easily detect structural abnormalities in the body.
You must inform your doctor if you have any metallic materials inside your body, such as surgical clips, metallic chips, artificial joints, prosthetic devices or metallic bone plates, screws or rods. These can distort the image that the MRI receives.
People with pacemakers, large metal implants or metal chips or metal clips near the eyes cannot be scanned because the scanner magnet might move these objects or wreck their function. The same is true for people who have implants in their ears or heart, bullet pieces, or insulin/chemotherapy pumps.
When taking the MRI scan, the tube the patient lies in is very narrow. This means that people who have claustrophobia should take a sedative before entering the MRI scanner.
The staff will be nearby if the patient has any problems being inside the scanner. The patient will hold a buzzer to communicate any problems in the scanner and verbal contact can be made by the technician.
Any metallic objects that can be removed by the patient are removed at the time of the procedure.
Sedatives may be given if necessary. Headphones to allow for technician-patient contact are put on the patient. They also allows for protection against the extreme noise of the MRI scanner and can pipe in music to block out the scanner’s sound. Scanning takes 30 minutes to up to 1.5 hours.
Some very specific MRI’s are more useful than normal MRI’s to detect brain injury. The Gold standard is the Tesla 3.0 MRI Machine.