MRI uses a powerful magnetic field, radio frequency pulses and a computer to produce detailed pictures of organs, soft tissues, bone and virtually all other internal body structures. Small devices, called coils, may be placed around the area being studied. These devices help send and receive the radio waves, and improve the quality of the images.
Since they use magnetic fields instead of X-Rays, MRIs do not expose patients to radiation and can be used repeatedly.
MRI technology has progressed significantly in recent years, enhancing the radiiologist’ ability to diagnose and treat a range of conditions and, as a result, improve patient outcomes as well. These conditions include:
What to expect during an MRI
Patients are placed in an MRI scanner, which is typically a large circular shaped magnet that is open at both ends to allow a steady flow of controlled fresh air to keep you comfortable. The length of the procedure itself can vary, depending on the area being scanned; 30 minutes to an hour is common.
An MRI can make loud tapping or knocking noises during the procedure. We provide you with earplugs or headphones with music to minimize the noise and make you more comfortable. You can also communicate through an intercom to the MRI technologist, who will be closely monitoring you throughout the procedure.
Since any kind of movement will interfere with the MRI, it is critical that you stay as still as possible. We realize this can be hard for some patients; we will work with you to make you as comfortable as possible. If someone is claustrophobic we can provide a mild sedative to make the process less stressful as long as you have a driver present with you.
For some MRI studies, a contrast material called gadolinium may be injected into a vein to help enhance the images. Unlike contrast agents used with CT scans and X-Rays, this does not contain iodine and therefore rarely causes allergic reactions or other problems.
MRI Safety Screening
At CHI St. Luke's - The Woodlands Hospital, we are very careful with our MRI safety screening process. There will be a safety form that needs to be completed prior to the MRI exam and will be reviewed with you by the technologist.
Before your MRI exam, remove all accessories including hair pins, jewelry, eyeglasses, hearing aids, wigs and dentures. Metal/foreign objects may interfere with the magnetic field, affecting the quality of the MRI images taken.
Notify your technologist if you have:
MRI technologists are registered with the ARRT and licensed with the state of Texas. All technologists participate in continuing education annually to fulfill their licensure credentialing requirement. The MRI department has a full time physicist and MRI specialist to ensure MRI protocols are updated and maintained for the highest quality of imaging while providing a safe environment for our patients and their families.