Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a non invasive medical test that helps physicians diagnose and treat medical conditions. MRI uses a very strong magnetic field and radio waves to create images of the body. The hydrogen atoms in the body react to the magnetic field and emit signals that are analyzed by a computer to produce images.
MRI does not use ionizing radiation (x-rays).
Preparing for a MRI
Generally there is no preparation for most MRI procedures. However, if the patient is having an MRI of the Bile Ducts (MRCP), he/she must not eat or drink 6 hours before the exam. We encourage patients to wear clothing without snaps, zippers, buttons or studs. Leave metal objects, such as jewellery, watches and coins at home.
Is the machine loud?
Yes, the machine is very loud. It makes a loud knocking and banging noise. Patients must wear earplugs or headphones to block out the noise and protect his/her hearing. Wentworth-Douglass' MRI offers cinema vision. It is a system that allows patients to view a show or movie on a special virtual reality headset. Patients can bring a DVD or pick one from the hospital's large selection. Also, patients may listen to music, which may be their own selection, or something from the WDH MRI music library.
What if I am claustrophobic?
The technologist will be in contact with the patient continuously during the MRI. They can see, hear and communicate with each patient during the exam. Patient safety, comfort and privacy are of top priority. Many exams (NOT all) can be performed feet first allowing the head to be out of the scanner or not have to go through the machine.
Please tell the ordering physician if there is a chance of claustrophobia or heightened anxiety. The ordering doctor can prescribe some medication to help relax you during the MRI. It is the patient's responsibility to obtain the medications at their local pharmacy and to follow the directions on the label.
Finally, WDH offers a more open MRI unit with a "Wide Open Bore". This is accomplished via a mobile MRI service that is at the hospital every Wednesday. This machine is wider and shorter and can accommodate larger patients with ease.