MRI 101: How to Prepare and What to Expect for your First MRI

mri imagingMagnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a very powerful tool for doctors. Using radiology, they are able to form pictures of your anatomy and physiological process in order to help determine if everything is running correctly.

If you are preparing for your first MRI imaging session, it can be nerve wracking. Fortunately, like most things, the waiting is far worse than the actual procedure. In order to help assuage any concerns, we have put together a quick primer on how to prepare and what to expect from your first visit MRI.

How to Prepare:
Typically, an MRI is fairly low maintenance procedure conducted at a local medical imaging center. You are able to both eat and take medication normally, unless you are otherwise instructed by your doctor. It is recommended that you not drink too close to the procedure, as you will have to lie still for an extended period of time.

You will, however, likely need to change into a hospital gown and remove any metal that might interfere with the scan. Such items include:

  • Jewelry
  • Watches
  • Glasses
  • Underwire bras
  • Dentures
  • Hairpins

What to Expect
At the medical imaging center, you will be required to lie down on a movable table, which will be slid into the MRI machine. The machine is essentially an open ended tube. All around you, a magnetic field is created and radio waves are directed at your body, although you will not be able to feel either of them.

While the machine functions, you should expect some noise. That is because the magnets in the medical scanning device are rapidly turning on and off the electrical current to create a better image of the inside of your body. If loud noises bother you, then consider earplugs or music.

Occasionally, patients will receive an IV of contrasting material, or material that helps enhance a specified area of the body. This may be the case when your physician is searching for heart disease, the number one cause of death in the United States.

What Happens If You’re Claustrophobic
While we did say above that, typically, the anxiety leading up to an MRI imaging scan is worse than the actual procedure, that’s not true for everyone. While that is nearly always the case, those who suffer from conditions like claustrophobia or anxiety might experience significant distress as a result of their first MRI.

In that case, you will likely be provided medicine that will make you less anxious or even sedated. If you feel like you might need these additional services, it is a good idea to plan to be picked up from the hospital.

While the idea of visiting the medical imaging center can be intimidating, understanding what to expect and how to prepare can help you feel more comfortable about the procedure. Hopefully, this guide has helped you in that regard.

If you have any questions about MRI imaging in Eastern North Carolina, or about any other medical procedures such as joint replacement or prostate cancer care, please contact us today.

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