How it works: An MRI scan uses a powerful magnet, radio frequency waves and a computer that processes the images to take extremely accurate images of organs, soft tissues, bone and internal body structures. It is one of the safest and most comfortable diagnostic imaging studies available. MRIs are measured by teslas (T), the strength of their magnet. The higher the number, the stronger the magnet and the more detailed the image. Oregon Imaging Centers has an open 1.0T, 1.5T and a large bore 3T MRI.
Why we do it: An MRI of the spine may be used to examine the spine, spinal cord and disc spaces.
What to expect:
During your visit, a patient advocate will show you to the changing area to change into scrubs and can assist you if necessary. Our changing rooms offer secure lockers, but we encourage patients to leave valuables at home. Once changed, our patient advocate will guide you to the sub-waiting area where you will find a selection of magazines and newspapers. A staff member will notify you when it is time for your MRI scan and introduce you to the MRI technologist.
The technologist is specially trained and certified by the American Registry of Radiological Technologists to take care of you during your MRI scan. A device called a coil will be placed around the area of your body we are scanning. Once you are comfortable, the technologist will move the table into the MRI scanner. You will be able to speak and hear the MRI technologist over an intercom.
The scan takes from 20-40 minutes depending on the purpose of your scan and which machine we use. There is light and plenty of air within the magnet. The equipment does not touch your body but you will hear buzzing and tapping noises from the machine. These sounds are normal and will last a few minutes. We will supply you with ear plugs and/or headphones. Some patients also find it comforting to wear prism glasses, or other items to cover your eyes, which can help patients who are feeling claustrophobic. We have all these aids available for you.
Depending on your situation, you may receive an injection during the procedure. The injection is for what we call “contrast” and allows for greater visibility of some parts of the body. Some patients describe a metallic taste or cool sensation after the injection. This is normal and usually subsides quickly.
Prep & safety:
In addition to the general directions regarding an MRI, please also note:
- Arrange for a family member or friend to accompany you. We require you to have a driver before being discharged.
- For your comfort, do not eat a heavy meal within two to three hours of your appointment, because you will be lying on your stomach for the duration of the exam.
- If you are taking hormone replacement therapy medication, please discuss discontinuing use of medication with your doctor prior to your MRI study.
- Please discuss discontinuing use of any type of anti-coagulant or blood thinning agent with your doctor two to three days prior to your study.
Your results: A highly specialized radiologist will interpret your images and prepare a diagnostic report for your physician within 48 hours. If your exam was ordered “stat” your physician will be notified of the interpretation the same day. Your physician will determine how the radiologists' report can be used to develop a treatment plan and will speak with you about your results.