How Do I Prepare For My MRI?
Guidelines about eating and drinking before an MRI vary between specific exams and facilities. Patients should eat food and take medications as usual unless specified otherwise.
Upon arrival patients will fill out an MRI clearance form that goes over the any types of metal that can be within a patient. Also the MRI technologist will go over everything with you to make sure that it is safe for you to get an MRI done.
In most cases, an MRI exam is safe for patients with metal implants, except for a few types. People with the following implants may not be scanned and should not enter the MRI scanning area without first being evaluated for safety:
- Pacemakers and cardiac defibrillator.
- Cochlear (ear) implants.
- Metal clips such as those used for brain aneurysms.
- Some types of metal coils placed within blood vessels
- Vagal nerve stimulators
If you have any questions about whether a metal implant is safe you can always give us a call at (763)244-8020
Upon arrival patients will change into a hospital gown. This is to prevent artifacts appearing on the final images and to comply with safety regulations related to the strong magnetic field.
Leaving all jewelry and other accessories at home is best, however, if these items are brought with the patient they’ll have the chance to remove them prior to the MRI scan and put them in a secure locker. Metal and electronic items are not allowed in the exam room. They can interfere with the magnetic field of the MRI unit, cause burns, or become harmful projectiles. These items include:
- Mobile phones, watches, credit cards, and hearing aids.
- Jewelry, Pins, hairpins, body piercings, metal zippers, and similar metallic objects.
- Eyeglasses, Pens, pocketknives, and keys.
Some MRI exams use an injection of contrast material. The technologist may ask if you have asthma or allergies to contrast material, drugs, food, or the environment. MRI exams commonly use a contrast material called Gadolinium. Doctors can use gadolinium in patients who are allergic to iodine contrast. A patient is much less likely to be allergic to gadolinium than to iodine contrast. However, even if the patient has a known allergy to gadolinium, it may be possible to use it after appropriate pre-medication. For more information on allergic reactions to gadolinium contrast, please consult the ACR Manual on Contrast Media.
Tell the technologist or radiologist if you have any serious health problems or recent surgeries. Some conditions, such as severe kidney disease, may mean that you cannot safely receive gadolinium. You may need a blood test to confirm your kidneys are functioning normally.
They may prepare children by showing them a model MRI scanner and playing the noises they might hear during the exam. They also answer any questions and explain the procedure to relieve anxiety. Some facilities also provide goggles or headsets so the child can watch a movie during the exam. This helps the child stay still and allows for good quality images.
If there is any question, an x-ray can detect and identify any metal objects. Metal objects used in orthopedic surgery generally pose no risk during MRI. However, a recently placed artificial joint may require the use of a different imaging exam.
Tell the technologist or radiologist about any shrapnel, bullets, or other metal that may be in your body. Foreign bodies near and especially lodged in the eyes are very important because they may move or heat up during the scan and cause blindness. Dyes used in tattoos may contain iron and could heat up during an MRI scan. This is rare. The magnetic field will usually not affect tooth fillings, braces, eyeshadows, and other cosmetics. However, these items may distort images of the facial area or brain.
Anyone accompanying a patient into the exam room must also undergo screening for metal objects and implanted devices.
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