Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) – Uses, Process, Side Effects

Last week I visited a well-known hospital in the city and needless to say I was blown away by how far the technology used for medical diagnosis has come. From simple X-rays to advanced level positron emission tomography (PET), I wonder if there is anything left that this technology cannot detect.

In fact, I was having repetitive headaches for a few weeks now and my physician recommended me to get an MRI scan done. At first, I was a little skeptical about why I need it for something as common as a headache. But then my doctor referred me to another doctor who is apparently the best Radiologist in Islamabad. He gave me an in-depth overview of MRI, its procedure, its uses, its side effects, and other important information I need to know about it. Here is a summary of everything I found:

What Is MRI?

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) uses the radiology method which uses radio waves and magnetic fields for the diagnosis of disease. The process of MRI became popular rapidly. Certainly, it is one of those procedures that revolutionized medicine. Along with the brain, it can also be used for diagnosis of the diseases in the chest, abdomen, and pelvis. Pregnancy safe MRIs are also available now.

The Process Of MRI

If you are getting your MRI scan done for the first time, you might be wondering about what you should and shouldn’t do. Here is a brief guide for you on the process of MRI. We can divide the whole process into three parts: the preparation, during the scan, and after the scan. Let’s look at each of them individually.

The Preparation

There is little to no preparation required for the process. Your radiologist might have any metal pieces in your body (bullet, pacemaker, etc.) which makes you unfit for an MRI, and that if you are pregnant because there are now pregnancy-safe techniques available too. Also, if you are claustrophobic, do not forget to mention your concern because they might give you a relaxant. Instructions on eating before MRI vary so confirm that beforehand as well.

The Scanning Process

After you enter the scanner they can communicate outside through the intercom. The process will start only when you tell outside that you are comfortable and ready. If you are not comfortable at any time during the process you can ask them to stop. Stay still while the monitor is scanning and hold your breaths as told.

After the MRI Scan

Your radiologist will look at the scan images and will tell you if they need any more follow-ups. If not, the process is complete and they will forward the results to your doctor and then the doctor will do the diagnosis accordingly.

Uses of MRI

Considering how accurate MRI scans are without any dissecting the body, it is a huge achievement in the medical world. It can detect almost any abnormality/disorder all over our body but some of the common uses for MRI scans are:

  • Detecting tumors and cysts in the body
  • Disorders in the brain and spinal cord
  • Few heart disorders
  • Breast cancer
  • Injuries in joints
  • Detection of gut disorders
  • Inspecting abnormalities in reproductive organs
  • Fetus health in pregnancies
  • Any blockage in blood vessels and inflammation of the vessels
  • Abnormalities in lymph nodes

Side Effects

Although side effects of MRI are rarely seen if any, there can be headaches or nausea due to contrast dye. Also, the point of injection can burn or hurt during the scan. Despite very unlikely to happen but still possible that the contrast dye can give irritation or hives to some people. In any case, inform your radiologist what you feel.

Conclusion

It is a 20-60 minute long scanning process that does not involve any surgery or exposure to radiation. All in all, the benefits are very high as compared to the side effects. But make sure not to overdo it. If you have an MRI scan done before, it is important to communicate with your doctor before they prescribe the scan again. And if you have an underlying disease your doctor does not know about, it is important to mention it too.

Meta Description: Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a non-invasive scanning process that uses a magnetic field and radiation waves to get a 3D cross-sectional image of your body that is highly accurate. It can be used for a number of reasons.