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What Getting an MRI Scan Is Like

What Getting an MRI Scan Is Like

You’re having a health problem and your doctor has given you a referral for an MRI. Your physician needs more information before proceeding, either for a definitive diagnosis or a specific treatment. 

Our expert radiologists with REDI Diagnostics Corp in Elmwood Park, New Jersey, provide accurate MRI scans and send the results promptly to your referring physician. Following is helpful information on what happens during an MRI scan. 

Preparation for an MRI 

If this is your first MRI, it helps to know what to expect beforehand. One of our staff leads you to a private dressing room, and you change into a hospital gown. You’ll remove all jewelry and anything metal like clothing with zippers or underwire bras. You can store your jewelry in a convenient safe. 

You enter the exam room and see a long machine shaped like a large letter “O” that’s open on both ends. It resembles a tunnel or an elongated donut. Your technician asks you to lie down on a comfortable padded table at the end of the MRI machine. 

The table moves into the tunnel partially or completely during your test. Because of the noises made by the MRI machine, we provide you with earplugs or with a headset so that you can listen to music during your scan. We can also provide a sleep mask. 

What happens during an MRI

Your technician reviews the MRI process with you before the scan starts so you’ll know what to expect and makes sure you’re comfortable and ready for your scan to begin. Try your best to relax. You have a call button you can push if you have an emergency during the process. 

Your job is to stay completely still during your scan unless your technician tells you otherwise. Try to focus on the music you’re listening to or think about a pleasant vacation you’ve taken.

During your scan, the table slides to a specific place in the tunnel of the machine and stops. If the scan is of your leg, the table will slide to the optimal place in the tunnel so that the MRI machine is focused on your leg. You’ll hear a series of different types of loud noises. That’s the machine at work. You may feel the table move slightly. 

Your technician may ask you to hold your breath for several seconds a couple of times during your scan. Other than that, you should breathe normally. Try not to breathe quickly or use long, deep breaths, especially if the scan is for a chest or stomach problem. 

How long does an MRI take? 

The scan itself usually takes only 20-25 minutes. It has different phases. You’ll have periods of silence followed by bursts of noise. 

Help for claustrophobic patients 

We have a GE Healthcare 1.5 Tesla short and wide bore MRI system available for patients who are claustrophobic; it also accommodates disabled and larger patients. Not all MRI facilities have this type of equipment. 

The diameter of the opening in the machine is 27.7 inches, leaving up to 17 inches of room from your nose to the top of the scanner. Traditional MRIs leave only 8-10 inches. 

In addition, the short bore feature of this MRI unit enables part of your body to remain outside the machine. For instance, if your scan is on your leg, your head, shoulders, and chest can be outside the tunnel, providing relief if you’re claustrophobic. 

If you think you might be claustrophobic even with this accommodation, your referring physician can prescribe an anti-anxiety oral medication for you to take one hour before your procedure to help you relax. You’ll need to ask someone to drive you to and from your appointment. 

Call REDI Diagnostics Corp or book an appointment online today to schedule your MRI.

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