We offer MRIs to patients with a provider’s referral. If your healthcare provider has suggested a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) exam, you may be wondering how this type of imaging study differs from others and how it might help determine your care.
When you are a patient or involved in a loved one’s medical care, information is power. Read on for what you need to know about MRI exams and how our team at Boardwalk Diagnostics can use an MRI to guide your healthcare decision-making.
What Is an MRI?
An MRI is an imaging study that creates a series of detailed images of your body’s internal structures using the power of magnets and radio waves. Certain structures—such as the brain, spinal cord, and other soft tissues—appear more clearly on an MRI exam compared to a CT scan or ultrasound. Contrast dye, often known as gadolinium, can make certain structures appear even brighter on an MRI. If your MRI includes contrast, the dye will be injected into your vein through an IV.
How Long Does an MRI Take?
An MRI produces in-depth, detailed images of your body’s internal structures. However, it can take longer to perform than other imaging studies, ranging from 20 to 90 minutes.
What Does an MRI Show?
An MRI exam shows the structures of your body in great detail. This is because the magnetic forces and radio waves incorporated into MRI technology cause the tiny particles inside your body’s cells to move a certain way within a magnetic field. The speed at which these particles move generates differently shaded images, with the contrast illuminating various body structures.
What Can Be diagnosed With an MRI?
Sometimes an MRI is the first imaging test used to evaluate a specific area of the body, such as an MRI of the brain or the lower back. However, in many other circumstances, people have had other imaging tests (such as X-rays, ultrasounds, or CTs) performed before obtaining an MRI. An MRI can often provide the highest level of detail to aid in a diagnosis.
The following is a partial list of conditions that can be diagnosed with the help of an MRI:
- Tears of ligaments, muscles, or tendons
- Tumors or cysts
- Brain or spinal cord conditions
- Certain heart problems
- Liver conditions
- Uterine conditions
- Bone or joint infections
MRI technology can be especially useful in pregnant women, as, unlike a CT scan or x-ray, an MRI does not give off low-dose radiation.
How to Prepare for an MRI
MRI exams are painless and non-invasive exams. In preparation for an MRI, a radiology technologist will conduct a survey to make sure that an MRI is an appropriate study for your condition. Because of the magnetic forces that are used during an MRI, it is very important that you do not wear any objects that could have metal in them. For this reason, you will change out of your clothing into a gown and remove all other items, such as eyeglasses, jewelry, and phones. It is also essential that you do not have implants or medical devices that might be magnetic, such as surgical clips, cochlear implants, pacemakers, or defibrillators.
Can You Eat Before an MRI?
You are generally allowed to eat and drink before an MRI. However, for some specific types of MRIs, you are advised not to eat. Make sure to ask your medical provider about whether it is okay to eat and drink before your MRI, especially if there is a chance that you would require medication to help you feel less anxious.
What to Expect During an MRI
Before entering the MRI machine, your radiology technologist will ask you a series of questions to determine if you are pregnant, or if you have any metal objects in your body. If a contrast dye is being used in the study, the technologist will verify that you do not have any known allergies to the contrast.
An MRI machine is a long hollow tube with a table that slides in and out. During the MRI exam, you will be lying on this table and secured in place so that you don’t accidentally move and make an image blurry. You will wear ear protection or headphones. You will then roll into the tube to start the exam.
During the exam, you may hear a loud thumping or clicking noise. You may also feel a slight sensation as the MRI stimulates your body’s nerve cells. You will be able to communicate with the radiology technologist during the entire study.
If you have claustrophobia and are concerned that it may be too difficult to remain still in an MRI for a prolonged period of time, make sure to talk to your healthcare provider. There may be a medication available to help you feel more relaxed.
How Long Does it Take to Receive MRI Results?
MRI exams are very detailed studies. In some emergency departments, MRI results may be available as soon as the radiologist reads them. However, because MRI studies are so detailed, it generally takes a few days to get the results back from an MRI that occurred outside the emergency setting.
What Happens Once My Results Are Ready?
When your MRI results are ready, your medical provider will review the radiologist’s findings and provide you with the information. You will be able to discuss the MRI results with your medical provider and ask follow-up questions. Sometimes an MRI result might lead to further tests. Other times, MRI results can be the definitive test that can help your healthcare provider make decisions about a procedure, such as a biopsy or surgery.
3 Tesla Magnet MRI at Boardwalk Diagnostics
Boardwalk Diagnostics has a 3 Tesla Magnet machine for MRIs. Our MRIs are conducted using this state-of-the-art machine.
What Is a 3 Tesla Magnet MRI?
A 3-tesla magnet MRI, also called a 3T MRI, is a special type of MRI machine that uses a more powerful magnet than that of traditional MRI machines. One of the differences between a normal MRI or a 3-tesla magnet MRI is the strength of the magnet.
How Strong Is a 3 Tesla Magnet?
A 3-tesla magnet is twice as strong as the magnet used in typical MRI exams.
Because the 3-tesla magnet is more powerful than a traditional MRI magnet, it can produce clearer and sharper images of your body’s internal structures. This makes a 3-tesla MRI a “state-of-the-art” MRI machine that can provide more accurate diagnoses.
How Can I Learn More About MRI Exams?
At Healthcare Associates of Texas, we use the information gleaned from MRI exams to help make the best decisions about your healthcare. To learn more about echocardiograms, or any of the other types of imaging studies that we have available, please feel free to call either of our Boardwalk Diagnostics locations.
Boardwalk Diagnostics in Bedford – (972) 258-7465
Boardwalk Diagnostics in Irving – (972) 258-7480