The Center for Disease Control reports that the most common reason that patients visit their doctors is for a cough, and upper respiratory conditions as a whole account for 22% of those appointments. However, there are other reasons that Americans go to visit one of approximately 209,000 primary care physicians in the country — and some don’t even see a primary care doctor at all. A growing option in the United States is to visit an urgent care clinic instead, even for yearly recommended physicals and more complex medical treatments.
One of the options that many patients have is to receive medical imaging services for their injuries and illnesses in a doctor’s office or clinic. Some popular types of imaging include X-rays, CT scans, and MRI scans. Magnetic resonance imaging or MRI procedures are used to form images of the body through the use of magnetic fields and radio waves. An MRI machine is a long tube that creates a strong magnetic field around you as you lie inside it, and the machine uses the waves to creates images of your body. MRI machines can be used to diagnose diseases and conditions in the body, especially in the brain, heart, organs, and musculoskeletal system. They are also commonly used in oncology to diagnose cancer. People who have metal plates, screws, or other metallic parts in their bodies cannot go inside an MRI machine due to its magnetic field.
What can a person expect when they receive an MRI? Here are the steps of the MRI procedure that you may see if you need this treatment:
1. Preparing for the MRI: Because the MRI machine is a long tube that a patient lies down inside, many people become nervous or report feeling claustrophobic inside the machine. Your doctor can give you a sedative if necessary, so you don’t panic inside the machine. In some cases, you may receive intravenous MRI contrast agents before entering the machine; this helps images process easier. These agents generally won’t cause an allergic reaction or other complications.
2. Inside the MRI: An MRI procedure could take up to an hour or longer. The inside of the machine is very loud, so your technician may provide earplugs or headphones and music for you. As you lie inside the machine, you can communicate with a technician, who sits in an adjacent room, via microphone. However, you have to lay very still as the scan completes in order to receive an accurate image. During the exam, you may also be asked to perform specific actions, like tapping a finger, so doctors can see which parts of the brain are being used for these functions.
3. After the MRI: Unless you have been sedated by a doctor, you should be able to resume normal activities for the rest of the day. Your doctor will alert you if anything showed up on your images.
If you have any questions or concerns about the process, be sure to speak to your doctor before your MRI.
Have you ever had an MRI procedure or other medical imaging before? Tell us about it in the comments. Read this for more: Mammogram san antonio tx