Monday, February 27, 2012

How to Prepare for a Magnetic Resonance Imaging Scan by Kathryn Dawson

A magnetic resonance imaging scan or MRI as it is more commonly known is quite a simple procedure that can be carried out on an outpatient basis. It is used to show the interior of the body in order to provide a diagnosis. Doctor's commonly prescribe it to patients who have been involved in a trauma, but equally it is used to locate the presence of tumors and other abnormalities. It can also detect broken bones, although more often an x-ray will be used for this which is a much cheaper scan. Having an MRI scan is not painful at all and doesn't take a long time. There are a few ways you may be asked to prepare which this article is going to cover. If you want to find out how you should prepare for an MRI scan then read on.

Guidelines about what to do immediately preceding the scan may depend on where you are having it done and why, but usually there are specific instructions about eating and drinking. Your doctor will tell you whether or not you can eat beforehand or how much water you can drink. Sometimes you won't be able to have any food or drink for a good few hours beforehand, other times this won't necessarily be a problem. Unless you are told otherwise you should just follow your usual routine of eating and drinking but avoid alcohol for at least 24 hours.

Often people ask about the clothes they should wear during the exam. Usually the patient is given a gown to wear so this is not a problem, but it is a good idea to wear loose fitting clothing on the day in question. Your doctor will advise on what you should be or will be wearing during the scan itself. You should not wear any metal however including belts, earrings and other jewellry.

Sometimes patients are required to take contrast material before the scan takes place to help the radiologist and other doctors interpret the data and images supplied. This will depend on the individual case. Sometimes the contrast material will be administered via an injection or orally via a pill. You will be asked whether you have any allergies before being given any contrast material including food and drink allergies and whether or not you have asthma. The material used is called gadolinium and it is rare that someone suffers from an allergic reaction to this substance. Some illnesses such as kidney disease may prevent someone from having the contrast material. If this has been in the family then your doctor may perform a blood test to check your own kidney function before giving you the contrast material.

Pregnant women may not be suitable for an MRI scan. Although there have never been any cases of side effects on babies from this type of scan, your doctor will not prescribe this scan to somebody pregnant unless absolutely necessary. As well as removing all jewellry before the exam, patients should also leave behind hearing aids, credit cards, watches, hair pins and anything with a zip. An MRI scan uses magnetic fields and anything that could potentially interfere should not be taken or worn into the room. Some people who suffer from a fear of enclosed spaces can ask for a mild sedative before undertaking the scan. Your doctor may or may not agree to this depending on the case. If you are worried about this aspect of the scan you should talk to your doctor beforehand.

Magnetic resonance imaging is an important part of modern medicine. This type of medical image processing is an effective tool in diagnosing serious illness and disease. It is particularly useful in the field of clinical oncology as tumours and abnormal cells in the body can be detected. The more effective a diagnosis is, the better treatment can be given.