Below is a list of questions to prepare you for your exam and make your MRI experience more pleasant.
Q-1: What is MRI and how does it work?
Q-2: Can anybody have an MRI scan?
Q-3: What do I have to do to prepare myself for an MRI?
Q-4: Does it hurt? Will I feel anything?
Q-5: I’ve heard that some MRI scanners induce claustrophobic reactions. Does yours?
Q-6: Will my insurance cover the cost of the MRI?
Q-7: Do I need a doctor’s prescription for an MRI?
Q-8: What should I bring with me when I come for my MRI?
Q-9: How should I dress? Will I have to wear any special clothing?
Q-10: Do I have to remain very still?
Q-11: How long will it take?
Q-12: Will I be getting an injection?
Q-13: Will I be able to drive after I have the exam?
Q-14: When will I find out the results?
A-1: MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging. An MRI scanner is a physician’s best option to look inside the body without using surgery, harmful radiation or dyes, or X-rays. With MRI, images of the human anatomy are produced using magnets, radio waves and computers. This type of imaging provides a close look at soft tissue anatomy far better than any other diagnostic imaging equipment. Fonar Corporation manufactures the Upright® MRI scanner used in our facility. Fonar’s founder Raymond V. Damadian, M.D. made the fundamental discovery upon which MRI is based in 1971. Since then, Dr. Damadian has been hugely instrumental in the advancement of MRI technology as a whole.
A-2: While an MRI is an extremely useful tool to physicians in the diagnostic process, not everyone is an appropriate candidate for this type of test. The MRI is operated using high powered magnets and these magnets can cause problems with some implanted medical devices. For this reason, cardiac pacemakers are NEVER allowed in our machine. Several other devices could present complications in an MRI scanner, and should be thoroughly scrutinized prior to testing. These potentially problematic devices include, but are not limited to, aneurysm clips, neuro-stimulators, heart valve implants, drug infusion device or pump, ear implants, hearing aids, metal objects in eyes, bone or joint replacements, metal plates, rods, pins or screws, contraceptive diaphragms or coils, permanent dentures, penile implants, shrapnel, vascular coils and filters. If any item on this list applies to a referred patient, we must check with the surgeon who installed the device to be sure the manufacturer has tested it and found it to be MRI safe for our machine. It is important that a patient make the technologist and staff at our facility aware of any possible metal in his or her body. In most cases you will be able to have the scan, but please leave that decision to the professionals. It is also imperative to notify our staff if you are or could possibly be pregnant, as MRI is not recommended during certain phases of pregnancy. Please Note: Anyone accompanying the patient to any area near the MRI scanner is subject to the same dangers and will be required to complete necessary paperwork.
A-3: Once you and our staff have determined that an MRI is safe for you (see previous question), preparing for an MRI exam is easy. There are no food or drink restrictions. You should take medications as usual unless otherwise directed by your doctor. No metallic objects are allowed in the MRI scanner. This includes jewelry, keys, watches, cell phones, coins, eyeglasses, removable hearing aids, dentures, prosthetic devices and even credit cards since they are magnetically coded. At our facility we provide a secure changing room where your personal items can be kept while you are being scanned. You will be given the key to this room, and that key will remain in your sight throughout the test.
A-4: No! The MRI does not hurt at all. Our Upright machine is non-claustrophobic and much quieter and more comfortable than other MRI scanners. You can just sit back, relax, and enjoy a movie, a TV show, or soothing music throughout the duration of your scan.
A-5: Our scanner is Upright and Open! We have no tunnels and no tubes. We specialize in comfortable and non-claustrophobic scans. Many of our patients tell us that they couldn’t possibly lie in the traditional “tunnel MRI”, but they easily complete their testing here with us. Watching television or a movie during your scan helps pass the time as well.
A-6: We work with most commercial insurance plans, Workers’ Compensation cases, Medicare, auto accident cases, and attorney letters of protection (LOPs). Either you or your referring physician can provide us with the appropriate insurance coverage information. Prior to your appointment, our staff will determine your coverage benefits for MRI and will let you know what amount, if any, you may owe.
A-7: Yes. A doctor’s order is legally required to perform an MRI. Your referring physician can fax or email your order to our office. While any signed order is acceptable, our customized MRI order form can be downloaded from this website.
A-8: Please bring the following to you appointment:
- Your insurance card
- Your driver’s license
- A method of payment if you have been informed of a balance owed
- Prepared Paperwork if downloaded prior to your scan.
- A pair of socks to be worn during the scan. We have booties…
A-9: This is nothing to worry about as we provide a set of scrubs or a gown for each patient. Since most items of clothing will have zippers, snaps, hooks, etc., we find it easier and safer for our patients to simply change into our provided items. As mentioned earlier, all jewelry must be removed including body jewelry. Other metallic objects such as hair clips, hair weaves or wigs should also be removed and left in the changing room. Notify the technologist if you have any facial tattoos, such as eyeliner or eyebrow tattoos.
A-10: Yes, as still as possible. This is the biggest requirement of the patient. Just like with a camera, movement causes blurring of the pictures. Remaining as still as you can assures a clear and diagnostic image, and also lessens the duration of your scan.
A-11: That depends on which body part your physician has ordered us to scan. Most scans take between 25 and 45 minutes, but some can be as long as one hour or more.
A-12: In certain situations, your doctor may order an MRI that requires an injection of a contrast agent. This agent, called gadolinium, can make certain areas easier to visualize making diagnoses more precise. The decision to administer this agent is made by your referring doctor. The gadolinium is injected intravenously by a qualified healthcare professional in our facility. Side effects are rare (less than 1%). If you do require such an injection, you will be made fully aware of possible side effects prior to the procedure. While side effects of any kind have an extremely low incidence, our office follows a rigorous and thorough protocol to ensure your safety. Should your doctor order gadolinium with your scan, you will be asked a series of questions and may be required to have a blood test prior to the scan. Once the blood results are received and all necessary levels are within limits, we can perform the test.
A-13: The MRI has no known physiological side effects, and the test alone should not affect your ability to drive. However, if you take any medication prior to your scan that may impair your judgement, we do require that you bring someone to drive you home. Please note, the paperwork you receive at our office will include a waiver indicating whether such a medication has been taken by the patient.
A-14: The results of your MRI examination will be received in our office and faxed or emailed to your referring doctor within 24 hours of your scan. In time-sensitive situations when a doctor requires a quicker turnaround, we will certainly accommodate. Your doctor will explain your results to you. Our technologists are not trained to interpret MRI examinations, nor are they allowed to discuss any aspect of the results with you, so please don’t ask them for their opinions.