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How to Prepare for an MRI: Everything You Want to Know

Everything You Want to Know

Magnetic resonance imaging, or simply MRI, is one of the more popular and most effective medical procedures in diagnosing abnormalities or monitoring treatments. Roughly a century ago, doctors would rely on symptoms and signs, which we now know is not an efficient method to make a diagnosis. Fortunately, today’s medical professionals can make a more accurate and precise diagnosis using advanced technology like MRIs.

What is an MRI and What is it For?

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a type of scan that is used to create images of body tissues, organs, and other structures. MRIs are done using a powerful machine that is large and shaped like a tube that uses radio waves and magnetic fields to create images of the inside of your body.

Have you ever paused to wonder how an MRI machine works? During an MRI procedure, you lie inside an MRI machine, while the strong magnetic field within the machine readjusts the molecules of water in your body. After the realignment of these water molecules, digitally generated radio waves induce these molecules to generate images in cross-sections. 

Images produced by an MRI machine can either be 2D or 3D. An MRI is a clear way for doctors to examine your bones, tissues, and organs while checking for cancers, brain tumors, etc. People should not feel pain during an MRI, nor do they sense the magnetic field or radio waves while in the tube. However, claustrophobic people might have to be sedated to get through the process because of their fear of enclosed spaces.

Is There Any Preparation Before an MRI?

Yes. Before your MRI, it is advisable to talk to your doctor about any underlying medical conditions you may have as strong magnetic fields are used in the MRI machine. 

If you have claustrophobia, talk to your doctor so you get properly prepared for your MRI. Usually, claustrophobic people are sedated for their scan. You should also let them know if you are pregnant or if you have any metal implants in your body, skin tattoos, bullet wounds, kidney problems, or allergies.

Inform your doctor early on so they can determine if you are good to go for an MRI scan, or if any adjustments need to be made. You should also prepare to come with a list of your current medications so your doctors make the best decision for you. 

Unless otherwise instructed, you can eat, drink, or even take your medications as normal before your MRI scan. On the contrary, you may also be instructed to refrain from consuming any food or drink for four hours before the scan in certain cases.

What Should You Not Do Before an MRI? 

Now that you know a few things you need to do before your MRI, what should you not do before your MRI? Here are three questions and their answers that’ll help give you the information you need, and maybe help clear any doubts you may have:

Can you Put on Deodorant for an MRI?

Although deodorants are refreshing, they do not go along well with MRIs. Most deodorants contain metals like aluminum. Since the MRI machines are magnets, it is best to not apply deodorants, antiperspirants, perfumes, or body lotions before the examination. These items contain metals that might interfere with the magnetic field inside the MRI machine and cause you to have distorted images and wrong results.

Can You Take a Shower Before an MRI?

If your doctor doesn’t say otherwise, you can have a shower before your MRI scan. However, you should not apply any products to your hair like sprays or gels as some of them contain metals that might interfere with your MRI examination. 

Can You Wear a Bra During an MRI?

Depending on where your body will be scanned, you may have to put on a hospital gown for your examination. In the case where you don’t need to wear a hospital gown, you should avoid clothing items with metals in them. If your bra has any metal in it, whether they are underwires or not, it is best not to put it on. Metal zip, buttons, belts, or fasteners with metals on them should also be avoided.

What Happens if You Move During an MRI?

You must lie very still during the scan otherwise the pictures might turn out blurry. If you are finding it difficult to stay still, or if you have claustrophobia or chronic pain, you may have to be sedated. 

How Do You Stay Calm During an MRI?

The most key fact to remember when having an MRI is to remain still and relaxed. The process, however, can cause some unsettling and nervous experiences in patients who are ill at ease in enclosed spaces. Here are a few things you could try:

  • Talk to your medical provider about your worries: Your doctor might recommend meaningful solutions that are tailored to your specific anxiety indication.
  • Understand the medical examination: Inquire about the scan from your medical provider or technologist. The more information you have about the machine, the better. 
  • Shut your eyes or cover your face with a towel if you don’t want to feel constrained: Try to imagine a beautiful place or childhood memories that you can return to while your examination is ongoing in your mind’s eye. But don’t worry, while you’re in the MRI machine, you’re being carefully monitored by experts.  
  • Be conscious of your breathing: Deep breathing can assist you in relaxing. Controlled breathing is one of the most effective methods for reducing stress and tension
  • Having a friend or relative with you or getting to know someone you can trust could help you get over your anxiety. Your friend might even be allowed into the examination room if your technologist allows it.

How Quickly Do You Get MRI Results?

The length of time it takes for your results depends on several factors, which include whether you are having the MRI done as a result of an urgent situation. If you get your MRI done in an emergency room, you may receive your results faster.

If you had your MRI for chronic conditions like cancer, staging, or to access treatment, it may take longer. This is because it has to be reviewed by many hands.

Getting an MRI comes with a lot of mixed feelings. Some people are scared of getting in the machine, while others are just uncertain of what they need to get ready before the procedure.

Preparing yourself for an MRI is not rocket science, neither can it be likened to trying to break a diamond. It is easy and it’s something you’ll find worth doing. Of everything we’ve listed, the most important is that you have a discussion with your doctor about any conditions or worries you may have.

If you’re looking to get an MRI, speak to the professionals at Premier Imaging for the best options available. At Premier Imaging, rest assured you’re in good hands. Call us to learn more, (203) 426-300