Magnetic resonance imaging is a test that uses a powerful magnet and radio waves to be able to visualize internal structures of our body in detail. The patient stretches on a mobile table that is inserted into the equipment.
What does it consist of?
Unlike X-rays and CT scans, MRI uses magnets and radio waves. It does not use X-rays or radioactive elements. The magnetic field signals that are generated bounce off the body. Each type of tissue returns different signals that a computer collects and converts into images. Many images can be captured during the same exam.
What is it normally used for?
It is used to obtain anatomical or functional images of the human body that should help to make a diagnosis or assess the state of health of a patient. It is used for a wide variety of conditions, from ligament tears to tumors. They are very useful for exploring the brain and spinal cord.
How it is performed?
The test usually lasts between twenty and forty minutes. A technical staff will help you position yourself on the mobile table that is inserted inside the equipment. In order for the device to capture images well, you have to be still. Until you leave, your professionals will talk to you and monitor you. Sometimes, in order to see some parts of the body better, it may be necessary to give a contrast intravenously into the arm or hand. The healthcare staff will inform you about the test, will clarify any doubts you may have and will have you sign an informed consent document. In pediatric examinations, or when the patient does not cooperate, it will be assessed whether sedation is necessary.
How does the patient have to prepare?
No special preparation is necessary in most cases. In case it is necessary to administer contrast, consult with your doctor whether or not to fast. It is very important that you tell your doctor and / or radiology specialist if you have a pacemaker because then the test cannot be done. If you wear any other type of metal prosthesis or ferromagnetic elements, you also have to notify the specialist to consider whether the test is adequate or not. This includes dentures. Before entering the room, make sure that you are not wearing metallic objects (such as jewelry, piercings, a watch, clips and hairpins in your hair, zippers, buttons, cards, etc.).
What will you experience before and after the test?
It does no harm. Even if you are given contrast, you will not notice anything special. You may notice a slight sensation of heat spread throughout your body. During the test, you must be absolutely still, you will hear the noise made by the device and to muffle it, you can be fitted with hearing protection. If you are claustrophobic, advise your doctor to assess how the test should be approached. You may be given medicine to calm you down and have the test done with an open device.
Who will test you?
A technical staff will do you the test and will be monitoring you at all times. Even if there is noise, you will be able to talk to him in the pauses between shots. If necessary, you can notify him at any time.
Who will interpret the results?
A doctor specializing in radiology.
What are the most frequent examinations?
It is commonly used to explore the central nervous system and the musculoskeletal system.
What special situations must be taken into account?
You may not be able to have the test if you have:
- a pacemaker
- brain aneurysm staples
- some types of artificial heart valves
- implants in the inner ear (cochlear)
- newly implanted artificial joints
- certain types of vascular stents
The doctor, nurse or technical staff must always be informed that…
- you are pregnant
- you are breastfeeding
- you know you may have an allergy to contrast
- you suffer from claustrophobia
- you suffer from severe kidney failure
- you have a transplanted liver
- You have undergone an intervention
Department of Radiology / Policlinica Comarcal del Vendrell