Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Preparing For A Scan The MRI(ght) Way.

December 13, 2018 by  
Filed under Health, Weekly Columns

(Akiit.comIf there’s one piece of medical equipment we all pray never to come across, it’s the MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scanner. Thanks to horror films and fluke accidents, many of us think these spell bad news for our health. The idea of laying down and going into that tunnel is, frankly, petrifying. None of us want to find ourselves in the position of lying on that extendable MRI bed.

Yet, this is a reality which happens to a vast majority of us at some stage during our lives. There are over 30 million MRIs each year in the U.S. alone. That’s because this method is used to diagnose more medical conditions than you could shake a stick at. While many of us know the connection between MRIs and brain tumors, doctor’s can tell a whole lot more than that using this method. To give you some idea of just how often MRIs are used, consider they assist in the diagnosis of –

  • Eye or ear problems
  • Heart valve problems
  • Arthritis
  • Torn ligaments
  • Ruptured implants

And many, many more. In reality, MRIs are used to diagnose things which a typical x-ray machine can’t pick up on. In some cases, they’re even used to track brain patterns. With that many potential diagnoses behind them, it’s no wonder many of us face an appointment in one of these at some stage. If you’ve got an appointment like this looming, know that you’re one of millions and that there’s nothing to be afraid of.

To prove that point, we’re going to talk you through the process from start to end. The unknown factor of something like this is often the most frightening aspect of all. While we’ve all had a fair few x-rays in our lives, MRIs may seem like a bigger deal because they’re new to you. Knock that fear on the head by reading the following pointers to help you prepare.


Before you even set foot in the hospital, it’s essential you know both why you need an MRI, and whether the hospital you’ve been referred to is your best option. Sometimes, not knowing a hospital could be enough to put you on edge. Luckily, doing your research is all it takes to ensure you can choose the right treatment center for something like this. It may also help you to research precautions you should take ahead of time. People who are pregnant or have diabetes, for example, should seek alternative options.

Your doctor shouldn’t have recommended an MRI if this is the case. Don’t hesitate to book back in with them if they’ve overlooked something like this. Note, too, that you should avoid wearing metal on the day, as an MRI is effectively a giant magnet. When the time comes, make sure to remove all jewelry, including any piercings. As for the MRI itself, you don’t actually have to do all that much beforehand. You should arrive around thirty minutes before your appointment to fill out a screening form and change into a surgical gown. Make sure, too, to take identification so that a radiographer can verify your treatment.


This is the part which scares the majority of us. The actual screening. Again, though, having some idea of what to expect can help a huge deal in calming your nerves. For one, you may want to have some idea of the time in which you’ll be within the MRI machine. This varies depending on the reason and extent of your scan, but around 45 minutes is standard. Bear in mind that this can increase to approximately two hours in extreme cases. Your radiographer should be able to give you some idea of this before the procedure begins. Once you are lying on the machine, the bed will move you into the imaging tank itself. This can be the most daunting part of all, but know that intricate parts, like a friction clutch, are in place to make this as safe as possible.

Once the screening begins, you will hear loud banging noises from the machine, but these are normal. If they bother you, ask your technician if they can supply any earbuds to make you feel more at ease. You should also have an intercom between you and your technician, and an alarm button so that you can get out if you feel uncomfortable. Most MRIs also come complete with fan systems for patient ease. Note, too, that both ends of the machine will stay open throughout the procedure.


Unless you’re given a sedative, you’ll be able to get up after your scan and walk out of the hospital with no further precautions. You’ll be free to go on with your day, and even drive a car from the hospital car park if you wish. If you are given a sedative to help you cope, you’ll stay in the hospital until you’re awake. Someone should then arrive to drive you home. As for results, this can vary. If they have the time, your radiographer may be able to write these up on the day of your scan itself. Your doctor will then call you with these results at their discretion. If you haven’t heard within a week, it’s worth phoning your doctor’s surgery to chase things up. There’s every chance they will have your results in by that point.

It’s easy to see why MRIs scare some people. The machines are daunting, and the length of the process brings fear of its own. But, as you can see from this breakdown, there’s really nothing to fear from a process like this. The reality of an MRI certainly varies from the depiction you’ve seen in all those horror films. The inclusion of a panic button means you’re in control at all times. Even those who experience mild claustrophobia may find that the open ends of the tunnel help to keep them calm. Then, you should be able to receive the diagnosis you haven’t been able to reach until now.

Staff Writer; Jason Brown

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