What is an MRI?
MRI or Magnetic Resonance Imaging is an advanced, state-of-the-art imaging method that produces very clear pictures or images of the human body without the use of X-rays. The technology assists a physician in detecting the development of diseases or abnormalities.
MRI uses a combination of powerful magnetic field and radio waves, much like those transmitted by radio stations, that are harmless to the human body and produce detailed images of body structures such as the brain, the spine and other vital organs.
West Tennessee Bone & Joint Clinic, P.C., has a 1.5 Tesla Philips MRI Unit and was awarded a three-year-term of accreditation in Magnetic Resonance Imaging Services and Diagnostic Imaging as a result of a recent survey of the American College of Radiology (ACR).
How an MRI Works
The human body is made up of millions of magnetic atoms. When placed into a magnetic field such as that in the MRI, these atoms line up with the field, similar to a compass pointing to the North Pole. Radio waves, tuned to a specific frequency, tip these magnets away from the magnetic field, gaining energy as they tip. When the radio waves are turned off, the atoms try to realign with the magnetic field, releasing the energy they gained as very weak radio signals. A powerful antenna picks up these signals and transmits them to the computer, which performs millions of calculations to produce an image.
What to Expect
Although it is a very advanced medical technique, the MRI may be one of the easiest and most comfortable exams a patient ever experiences. On the average an MRI scan can take from 15 to 30 minutes. A complete exam can run from 45 to 60 minutes. During the scan several dozen images may be obtained.
When you enter the MRI room, you will be asked by the technologist to lie down on a cushioned table. Once you have been correctly positioned for your scan, the table will move automatically and your scan will begin. The technologist will be outside the room during your exam but will remain in constant communication with you throughout the exam.
You will know when the actually MRI scan is taking place by the muffled thumping sound the machine makes, which lasts a few moments. The sound is the only sensation you should experience during the scan. It is important to remain as still as possible during this time as any movement may blur the picture.
Once the exam is complete, the technologist will return to the room to assist in helping you off the table.
MRI Patient Form
If you have an appointment for an MRI, please download the following pdf form, fill it out and bring it to the clinic with you. (MRI Patient Form)
MRI Patient Checklist
Before your exam, please note:
- There are no food or drink restrictions prior to the exam, you may eat or drink normally.
- It is not necessary to stop taking your medications prior to the exam, take them as you normally would.
- If you have any of the following, you will not be able to have an MRI:
- Cerebral aneurysm clips
- Certain heart valves
- Cochlear implants
- Metal slivers in the eye
- Before your exam, you will be asked a series of questions concerning past surgeries as well as your occupational background. Please inform the technologist if you have ever performed metal work, such as welders, grinders, etc., or had any metal implants. Preliminary x-rays may need to be taken.
- Dress in comfortable, loose clothing that preferably has no metal, such as zippers or under-wire bras. It is wise to leave jewelry and other personal items at home, as you will be asked to remove these prior to the exam.
- If you think you may be claustrophobic, inform your doctor so that medication can be prescribed prior to the exam. If you do receive medication, please bring someone with you that will be able to drive you home.
Relax and do not worry about the exam. It is our job to see that you receive the quality, professional care you deserve.