Known to most as MRI, magnetic resonance imaging is a technique that enables physicians to see internal organs without using surgery or X-rays. MRI does not use radiation like traditional X-ray modalities. A sophisticated computer enhances images created by a magnetic field and radiofrequency waves. These images are transformed into sectional views of the organ or area being studied. MRI is very useful in diagnosing a variety of conditions and disorders affecting:
- The central nervous system: the soft tissue parts of the brain and spinal cord.
- Orthopedic structures: internal bone architecture and joints, such as the knee, shoulder, jaw, wrist, and ankles. MRI is also the best imaging technique for cartilage, muscle, and ligaments.
- Abdominal and pelvic organs: the pancreas, liver, adrenal glands, and reproductive organs.
- Blood vessels: arteries and veins.
ChristianaCare is equipped with advanced, high-field Open MRI scanners, which are better than other Open MRI scanners because they generate images that are comparable in quality to standard MRI scanners.
Most people are comfortable with traditional MRI scanners, but for patients who are severely claustrophobic or require additional space, ChristianaCare offers Open MRI. An Open MRI scanner works the same as a traditional MRI scanner, but it is built with additional room for the head, arms and legs. Open MRI is currently available at our Smyrna and Brandywine locations. If you prefer Open MRI, please tell the scheduler when you call to make your appointment.
Preparing for your MRI scan
Usually there are no special preparations required for an MRI scan. Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, you may eat normally and should continue to take any medications you regularly take. MRIs generally are not recommended for pregnant women. Please tell us if you are pregnant or think you may be pregnant.
It is also important that you tell us if you have any metallic devices in your body. These objects may interfere with the MRI’s magnetic field. Please let us know if you have any of the following:
- Cardiac pacemaker.
- Any internal electronic device.
- Artificial heart valve or stents.
- Medical surgical clips or aneurysm clips.
- Intrauterine device.
- Hearing aid or implants.
- Artificial joints/metal rods.
- Embedded shrapnel or metal fragments.
- Kidney disease.
You will be asked to undress and put on an exam gown. All loose metal objects must be left outside the exam room. Such objects include jewelry, watches, hairpins and dentures. Credit cards also should not be brought into the exam room because the MRI’s magnetic field will erase credit card codes.
In some cases, you may be given an injection that will provide contrast in the images that is needed to enhance the detail of particular body parts.
You will lie on a table that positions you within the MRI unit, a large open-ended tube that will surround your body while you are being scanned. A trained and licensed radiologic technologist will observe you from another room, talking with you via intercom, while he or she operates the computer that controls the MRI unit.
You will hear some tapping noises, as the computer generates the MRI images; during this time you should lie motionless so that the images are as clear as possible. If you feel uncomfortable, please tell the technologist, who can hear you at all times. We will provide you with ear-plugs or headphones.