For those having an MRI scan for the first time, you may be a bit nervous and not know what to expect. Learning more about MRI scanning, how it’s done, how it’s used, and what you can expect, can help alleviate your fears.
The expert providers at LA Orthopedic Specialists in downtown Los Angeles, California use MRI scans as part of a range of testing they perform to help diagnose a wide number of ailments and injuries. This precise diagnosis is critical to choosing the best treatments to relieve pain, restore mobility, and return you back to a better quality of life.
What is an MRI?
MRI is an acronym for Magnetic Resonance Imaging. This scan uses a strong magnetic field and low-energy radio waves to obtain highly accurate images of your tissues and bones. The magnetic field temporarily causes the hydrogen atoms in your body to align, then the radio waves return them to random patterns. After this process, when the radio waves cease, the atoms produce their own form of radio signals, which are recorded as an image.
While this may sound disconcerting or even dangerous, you have nothing to worry about. MRI scans are quite safe, and you won’t feel any discomfort. There’s no radiation used with an MRI, so even that slight risk is eliminated. If you have any kind of metal implant in your body, like orthopedic screws, pacemakers, or other such devices, you may not be able to have an MRI. Our team will take a complete medical history to determine if this type of scan is right for you.
Some MRI scans require an injection or oral solution of contrast dye to obtain certain types of images. Some people may be allergic to this contrast, but severe reactions are rare. Your provider from LA Orthopedic Specialists will discuss this with you if it’s needed for your MRI.
Preparing for your MRI appointment
Your provider gives you instructions before your MRI appointment. They may ask you to refrain from wearing makeup or drink a contrast solution before arriving at your testing location. Other common instructions can include:
- Avoid wearing any jewelry
- Avoid wearing clothing with metal fasteners
- Remove clothing and wear a gown during the scan
You may be given other instructions by the MRI technician, but you won’t be asked to do anything strenuous.
Your MRI scan procedure
The MRI machine can be open or closed, but is generally shaped like a long tube. Sometimes your entire body will need to enter the tube, and sometimes only a part of your body, depending on your injury or illness. You lie down on a movable bed that slowly moves into the machine for your scan, then moves back out.
You need to remain still for your scan to obtain a clear image. The MRI technician may pose you in certain ways, such as with your arms over your head, to obtain the correct images. You won’t be asked to do anything uncomfortable. The machine itself will hum and make other soft noises. Don’t be alarmed, this is normal.
The technician may or may not ask you to hold your breath for a brief period of time, or to take a deep breath. Some MRI scans can last up to 60 minutes, but most are not that long. The technician will communicate with you, and you can ask to stop the procedure at any time if you become nervous.
After your scan is completed, you may get dressed. The technician will answer any questions you have before leaving. If you drank a contrast solution or received a contrast injection, you’ll be instructed to drink plenty of water over the next few hours to help expel the dye from your system.
The talented providers at LA Orthopedic Specialists use MRI scans regularly to diagnose and treat many injuries or problems with joints, bones, and other issues. They’ll contact you to review the results of your MRI and answer any questions you have about proposed treatments. Schedule an appointment with us today for superior orthopedic care in the Los Angeles area.