What is an MRI?
An MRI is a diagnostic exam using radiofrequencies and magnetic waves to obtain images of the part of the body giving you trouble. We are able to perform a number of exams that include head, neck, cervical spine, thoracic spine, lumbar spine, abdomen, shoulder joints, elbows, wrists, pelvis, hips, knees, and ankles to name some of them. The exam time depends on the exam we are doing and whether or not we are injecting you with a contrast material. They can last anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour. In order to obtain the images, there is a loud knocking sound during the exam; however, we will give you headphones with music to help drown out the noise. Sometimes we can only give you earplugs, depending upon the exam. Whether you get earplugs or headphones, the sound is still heard, but we do what we can to make you comfortable.
How is the examination performed?
This will depend upon which body part we are imaging. You will most likely be lying on your back for this exam. There are a few exams that are done with you on your stomach, but not many. If you are having a head or neck exam, you will go into the magnet head first.
Most exams done below the waist will have you going into the magnet feet first. If your exam requires the injection of contrast, you will have an initial set of images, and then the Technologist will use a very small needle and tube to inject the contrast, and finally you will be moved back into the magnet for another set of images. If you are not getting contrast, there will just be images taken and you should be done with your exam between 20 and 45 minutes. Studies with contrast will take about an additional 10-20 minutes. During the entire examination, the Technologists will be able to talk to you through a speaker system so they can make sure you are doing fine and help you through the exam. They will also give you a small bulb that you can squeeze if you have any problems and need to stop the exam. Most people do just fine.
Who is a candidate for an MRI?
Anyone can have an MRI with some exceptions. If you have a pacemaker or brain aneurysm clips, you can not have an MRI. If you have any other implants, please either bring your implant notification card or the name of the manufacturer to your appointment as some types of implants are not allowed in the MRI scanner. If you have any questions, please give our experts a direct call at 575-751-5870.
Will I need to prepare?
Most MRI exams do not require fasting or other preparations prior to the exam. Please do not wear any jewelry like watches, necklaces, rings, and earrings. Before the exam, you will be asked to remove any jewelry if you do have any with you, including all piercings.
*Also, if ordered with contrast, a creatinine blood test is required for anyone that:
- Is over 60 years old.
- Is diabetic.
- Has renal insufficiency.
- Has Chronic Heart Failure.
*Please have your lab work done at least 24 hours prior to your scheduled MRI; preferably within 30 days of your exam.
What will I experience?
A Registered Technologist will perform your examination and can answer any questions you may have. You most likely will be asked to change into a hospital gown prior to entering the MRI room. Upon entering, you will lie down on your back. The Technologist will step out of the MRI room and into the control booth to take an initial image. It is important that you remain as still as possible during the entire exam. The MRI exam is a noisy procedure. You will be given headphones and music to listen to so that you may have a more pleasurable experience during the MRI scanning process. You may bring your own CD if you would like. Please note that if you are having a cervical spine, thoracic spine, or lumbar spine you will not be given headphones as they do not fit into the device.
After a series of images, the Technologist will inject a contrast agent called Gadolinium; if you are getting contrast. The contrast is extremely safe and side effects are very rare. After administration of the contrast agent another set of images will be obtained. Once those images have been acquired the procedure is complete. The Technologist will remove you from the magnet and you will be allowed to get dressed and leave. The entire procedure should last approximately 20 minutes to an hour.
What happens next?
Your images will be interpreted by a State of New Mexico licensed and board certified Physician, Radiologist, that specializes in radiology interpretation. A report will be dictated, transcribed, and faxed to the Physician that ordered your test. Your Physician will receive the report within 24 hours and is responsible for notifying you of the results.