Everything you need to know before having an MRI

The magnetic resonance o MRI is a very common diagnostic test in our country, but before undergoing an examination of this type there are a series of issues that we must know so that everything goes perfectly.

In Spanish hospitals and health centers there are around 900 magnetic resonance devices that, according to the Spanish Society of Medical Radiology, perform more than three and a half million tests each year. If the following quote is for you, I invite you to read carefully.

Am I going to expose myself to dangerous radiation?

No. Resonance devices do not emit ionizing radiation, unlike, for example, the TAC. MRI is a safe and painless test. The same thing happens with ultrasounds, which also do not emit any radiation.

How long does the test take?

There is no standard duration, it will depend on the study to be carried out, but itThe usual thing is that it lasts about 45 or 50 minutes on average.

Do I have to be completely still?

Yes, that is all they will ask of you during the test, which is to be calm, still, lying down and relaxed. If we move when they take a photo of us, we will be blurry; The same thing happens with resonance.

The machine makes loud sounds during operation, you don’t have to worry about anything, they will also put headphones or even music on you to isolate you from that noise as much as possible.

Are they going to prick me?

Could be. Depending on which area of ​​the body they want to study, the radiologist will assess in advance whether it is necessary to use a contrast medium or not during the MRI. This is nothing more than a drug that allows us to see certain cavities in our body in more detail, see how some structures work and even distinguish healthy tissues from damaged ones.

This contrast can be given to us orally before the test or it may be injected during the test through a vein.

How far does the resonance cover?

You have probably heard that it is a closed tube and that idea seems overwhelming, but you should know that this is not the case: it is open at both ends and He is not going to be locked inside.

If, for example, the MRI is of your head, this will be what enters the machine first and will cover you up to your waist. The legs will be left out.

Will I have to undress?

S. You will be provided with a gown to wear during the test along with your underwear but, above all, and this is very important, you will be asked to remove any metal objects you are carrying. All. Even the smallest.

This is because the machine uses a very powerful magnet that attracts any metallic object with surprising force, turning them into real projectiles. If you carry the mobile phone with you during the test, it will be useless.

It is vitally important that, before entering the room, Warn staff if you have any devices implanted or is a carrier of elements such as insulin pumps or cochlear implants since they must assess whether they could cause damage during the test.

What objects can I not carry with me?

Jewelry, headphones, watches, hairpins, brooches, belt, credit cards, glasses, piercings, mobile phone…

In the case of artificial limbs, heart valves, stents, aneurysm clips, implanted defibrillators, nerve stimulators… You must always notify before entering the room so that each case can be evaluated.

I have a dental implant, can I have an MRI?

Dental implants, as well as the screws or plates used in traumatology, are generally made of titanium. In this case they do not pose a problem, since it is the materials with ferromagnetic properties that could move if their implementation is recent.

Anyway, You must always notify the staff that you have an implant or a dental corrector in case the study is carried out in an area close to your implantation, since it could heat up or distort the image.

I have a pacemaker, can I no longer have an MRI?

It will depend on the manufacturing date of that pacemaker. With recent models there is no problem, but before the test you have to go to Cardiology so they can put it in resonance mode. And when finished, return to have it reactivated.

Are tattoos a problem?

In the past, tattoos were done with metal-based inks that could interfere with the image and cause burns.

But Nowadays, synthetic inks are usually used that do not pose a problem, although in tattoos that cover large areas of skin the area could become hot during the test. In that case, a damp cloth can be applied to the tattoo.

Can I have an MRI with breast prostheses?

Yes, they are not a problem. But in the case of breast expanders, which are implanted prior to the definitive prosthesis, it must be assessed whether they contain a small metal valve.

I am going to be alone?

During the test there will be times when there is no one next to you, but we will be watching you at all times on the other side of the glass. If you are afraid or overwhelmed, you can communicate with us through a microphone; pWe will be able to hear and talk to you during the test. We can even give you a button by which you can also notify us and, if necessary, the test can be interrupted.

Do I have to go on an empty stomach?

As a general rule, it is not necessary. But in some cases you may be told not to eat or drink a few hours beforehand. If so, they will let you know.

How does an resonance work?

To obtain images of the interior of our body so that the radiologist can decipher them, this device uses a very powerful magnet ring-shaped and radiofrequency pulses similar to radio waves. By combining both elements and with the help of a computer program, images are obtained.

Is it better to have a CT scan or an MRI?

They are different radiological studies, one is not better than the other. For example, CT is ideal in urgent pathologies, such as when a patient suffers a severe head injury and we need to quickly know the extent of the injuries with great resolution and precision. On the other hand, MRI is very useful to evaluate in great detail the nervous system, the musculoskeletal system and to know and study the state of the abdominal and pelvic organs.

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