The Magnetic Resonance Test (MRI) Procedure
What is an MRI? Who Needs One?
The MRI, which stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging, is commonly used in producing medical images.
Many people need this test. Most commonly, it's used for taking photographs and measurements of the brain. This can include young children, who can be intimidated by the procedure.
Others who may need an MRI are people with bad backs. Each section - like the lower back, upper back, neck area, etc. take about fifteen minutes to accurately measure and document.
The MRI Procedure Described
You will be asked to remove all metal items. Basically, strip down to your underwear then dress in a cloth gown garment. You will be told to relax and may close your eyes, if you wish. The legs may be drawn up slightly, and a triangular cushion placed underneath.
Most MRIs take about 20 minutes to complete. During this time, the patient wears headphones. A series of buzzing and beeping noises are heard to help create the magnetic waves in the body in order to measure the inside part of the spine, brain or other area(s) being magnetically imaged.
Those who are sensitive may wear rubber ear plugs or cotton balls to help deaden the vibrating noises. This is not torture, nor a techno party. These buzzing vibrations help create sound waves to better measure what is going on within the body.
Sounds may be humorous, if not invasive. There are jackhammer noises, donkey gait type sounds, and many more. You Tube has a recording of sounds you may hear during your MRI.
- Claustrophobia and the MRI Machine
During the past 19 years, a friend of mine has undergone approximately 18 Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) procedures. His biggest problem with these exams is his claustrophobia. This Hub describes the ways in which he's tried to cope with the claust
The Inner Workings of the Brain
Getting Through the Procedure
There is an Open MRI machine, which lessens the fear and panic reaction to many patients. These tend to be slightly larger and more modern, with the patient feeling less enclosed. If this is not available, there is no alternative but to try to overcome it.
There are also MRI machines in portable trailers, going from town to town. Some are narrower (about 55 cms wide) and some are wider (70 cms). Not all are the same.
An Open MRI Machine
Many people don't like being rolled into a small tube. Playing "dead" is a little strange. Not all people are claustrophobic, so reactions will vary.
The body is relaxed, there is room to lie somewhat comfortably, arms relaxed to the side. The patient's arms are strapped to the side and given a plastic box the size of a pack of cigarettes as a panic button. Many prefer to keep their eyes closed during the procedure and play mental games to help stay focused and calm.
Headphones are placed on the head. Those who want to prepare for the strange series of noises can get used to them before entering the tube. The sounds are somewhat loud, but that is for medical purposes. Getting familiar with them before hand tends to help the patient know what to expect. The sounds may be played out in a different series.
Contact with the Outside
For those who get extremely upset, a partner can sit with them, touching their arm or shoulder from outside the tube. Many find this calming, while others find this distracting. Some other patients place a washcloth over their eyes to not be tempted to see how close the top of the tube is to their head.
Stress is not good for the test. The more relaxed the patient lies, the faster and easier the magnetic imaging will take. Those who tend to panic in small places must find a way to get through it. There are those who are larger - fatter if you will - may feel even more restricted. Actually, it seems to be adequate for those who are not abnormally obese.
What do claustrophobic patients do?
Some simply refuse, but then the doctor cannot treat the problem. The MRI provides an important function - much like the ultrasound test.
Some patients choose to medicate. They take a mild sedative the day of and even the day before, if they are too worked up about the procedure.
Fun Things to do in the MRI Tube :D
If you are learning a foreign language, try playing word games with each of the letters of the alphabet. For example in Croatian, there are seven cases. The words change according to their placement in a sentence.
Use your own language to think of boys names from A to Z, girls names from A to Z, cities from A to Z and so on.
One patient made a joke of all the funny noises going through her head. The knock knock was "you can't come in now, I'm having an MRI". The jackhammer sound was "oh good, they're preparing a new sidewalk outside my house", etc.
Some medical offices provide a tiny headphone to wear during the procedure so you can listen to music while they take magnetic images of your innards.
Another suggestion is to wad lump of cotton in your ears to lessen the intensity of the sound. You will still hear it but it may not seem quite so intrusive.
Having cool breaths of air and calmness really helps it go more smoothly and comfortably. This may just be one of those times to take a mild sedative. Those who have experienced natural childbirth know that deep breathing is a great relaxation tool but in the MRI tube it's neither feasible nor recommended.
Good luck and I look forward to hearing your comments.
Designed for Children
Nuclear, but not Dangerous
More on the MRI
- Do I Need an MRI Scan?
An MRI scan usually provides the best imaging of the spine. Read about when an MRI Scan is warranted and indications/contraindications.
- Do I Need an X-Ray or MRI?
A short article to help determine when an Xray or MRI are indicated and answer why physicians do not order them initially.
- What to expect from your MRI Brain Scan
typical axial, coronal and sagittal views are done of the brain with different hydrogen weightings during a standard mri brain scan What to expect from your mri brain study can be perplexing, as MRI is not like any of the other radiology imaging...
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