If your doctor prescribes an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), the claustrophobic among us may begin to panic. MRI creates detailed images of structures inside your body using a powerful magnetic field and radio waves. Although MRI is safer than an X-ray, as it emits no radiation, the scan itself takes place in a tube-like machine and lasts 30-90 minutes. It is not the most pleasant experience even for those who are not afraid of closed-in spaces. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to minimize any claustrophobic feeling you have during an MRI.
Understand the reasons why you’re getting an MRI
If you go so far as to make an appointment for your scan, you have obviously accepted a serious need for detailed imaging in determining the next step needed to care for your health condition. Many patients getting an MRI have been in pain for an extended period or have an injury to soft tissue that your doctor wants to confirm before determining a treatment plan. Before MRI was available, the only way to get a detailed picture of what was going on inside your body was through surgery!
Know what to expect
Most MRIs are constructed to look like a tube with a table in the middle. Both ends are normally open. Depending on the part of your body that is being scanned, the technician may be able to conduct the test with your head outside the machine. The magnetic field pulses and makes a loud, repeating noise throughout the test. You’ll be given protective ear plugs or headphones to reduce the amount of noise you can hear. Some patients opt to listen to music and some even fall asleep!
Tell your doctor that you are claustrophobic, and he or she may recommend what is called an open MRI. These machines have open sides as well as ends, so your body is not closed in at any point. The images produced are not quite as detailed as those from a more traditional MRI, but depending on what you are being scanned for, open MRI is a good option for many people.
There is no shame in taking a sedative before your MRI scan. It can be an effective way to face the scanner, lie still for the amount of time necessary, and stay (reasonably) relaxed. Talk to your doctor before scheduling your MRI and let the imaging center know that you have the prescription. You will receive instructions on when to take the medicine. Of course, if you are going to take a sedative you will need a ride home from the test.
For more than 30 years, patients in Palm Beach County have trusted the expertise of Independent Imaging Center. We offer MRI scans (including open MRI) and many other imaging tests using the latest in diagnostic equipment. Our technicians and radiologists understand that getting an MRI can be stressful and we will do whatever we can to help you have a good experience. Call (561) 795-5558 for an appointment at any of our convenient locations. We work with your doctor so you get accurate results faster. MRI results are typically available within 24-48 hours.