Magnetic Resonance Imaging, or MRI, is an advanced, state-of-the-art diagnostic test, which produces very clear pictures or images of the human body without the use of X-rays. This technology enables physicians to detect developing diseases or abnormalities earlier than ever before. MRI uses a powerful - but harmless -magnetic field and radio waves like the kind that transmit your favorite FM music. The combination of radio waves and magnetic field produce detailed images of body structures such as the brain, spine and other vital organs.
Signature Healthcare offers the most advanced diagnostic tools for helping physicians reach confident diagnoses and helping patients feel more comfortable during MR scans. Patients in need of routine Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans can take advantage of some of the most advanced MR imaging services in a magnet, designed with patient comfort in mind. Signature Healthcare has installed a MAGNETOM® Verio MRI scanner, the world's first open bore 3T MRI.
The MAGNETOM® Verio MRI offers excellent image quality and diagnostic capabilities, along with exceptional patient comfort thanks to a large 70-cm opening. With one foot of spacious headroom, patients no longer feel like they are “nose to nose” with the top of the magnet.
At 3T, the MRI has the strongest magnet field strength used clinically today, giving Signature Healthcare physicians access to many applications, including orthopedic and cartilage assessment, and breast, vascular and cardiac imaging. The system is used to non-invasively scan head, neck, TMJ, spine, breast, heart, abdomen, pelvis, joints, prostate, blood vessels, and musculoskeletal regions of the body.
Originally developed in the late 1970s, from discoveries made in the 1940s, MR scans combine the power of magnetic and radio frequency fields, allowing physicians to view the tissue structure of internal anatomy without exploratory surgery. MR exams are used when people are ill or injured, or when a physician suspects a medical problem that is not easily detectable from a conventional physical examination.
Preparation and FAQs
The human body is made up of millions of atoms, which are magnetic. When placed in a magnetic field, these atoms line up with the field, much like a compass points to the North Pole. Radio waves, tuned to a specific frequency, tip these tiny magnets away from the magnetic field. As they gain energy, they tip. When the radio waves are turned off, the atoms try to realign with the magnetic field, releasing the energy they gained as very weak radio signals. A powerful antenna picks up these signals and sends them to the computer, which performs millions of calculations to produce an image for diagnosis.
How long is an MRI scan?
The average complete MRI scan takes 20-60 minutes depending on what your doctor has ordered.
What are the important considerations for an MRI scan?
The MRI scan poses no risks to the average patient if appropriate safety guidelines are followed. The back of this pamphlet describes these in detail. If you have any questions regarding the MRI scan, please be sure to discuss them with your doctor.
What Can You Expect During the MRI Scan?
Although MRI is a very advanced medical technique, the MRI scan is probably one of the easiest and most comfortable exams you may ever experience. The technologist will simply ask you to lie down on a cushioned table which will automatically move into the magnet after you have been comfortably positioned for scanning. The magnet is open on both ends. The technologist will stay in contact with you throughout the exam. When the MRI scan begins, you will hear a muffled thumping sound which will last for several minutes. Just relax – even take a nap –but try to lie as still as possible since any movement during this time can distort the image. Other than sound, you should experience no other sensation during scanning. When scanning is complete, the technologist will return to assist you off of the table. For certain studies, the injection of a contrast agent may be necessary to help better visualize the area being examined. Unlike contrast agents used in other radiology studies, MRI contrast agents do not contain iodine and therefore rarely cause allergic reactions or side effects.
Before having a contrast injection, please tell your doctor nurse, and/or MRI technologist if you:
- are allergic to any medicine, either prescription or nonprescription (OTC);
- are pregnant;
- are breast-feeding;
- have any other medical conditions, especially allergies or asthma (history of), kidney disease, diabetes or heart disease.
Prior to your exam, please review the following checklist:
- Please bring previous X-rays applicable to the exam. The radiologist may want to review them (Ex. if you are having a MRI of a knee, please bring any previous X-rays of your knee.)
- For most exams, it isn’t necessary to refrain from eating and drinking, your physician can help guide you through the preparation.
- You CAN take any medication you may currently be taking. It is not necessary to stop taking it prior to the exam. In fact, the exam will be much more comfortable if you continue to take your medication.
You CANNOT have the exam if you have any of the following:
- Certain cerebral aneurysm clips (magnetic)
- Certain heart valves
- Cochlear implants
- Metal filings in the eye
You will be asked a series of questions concerning your surgical and occupational background. If this history includes metal work (ex. welders, grinders, etc.) or metal implants, please be sure to tell the technologist prior to your exam. Preliminary X-rays may need to be taken.
If you think you may be claustrophobic, ask your doctor to prescribe medication prior to the exam. If you do receive medication, please bring someone with you that will be able to drive you home because you will not be able to drive yourself.
Getting Your Results
The radiologist and your physician will discuss the results with you.
Signature Healthcare Brockton Hospital
Monday - Friday: 6:30am-11:00pm
Sunday: 7:00am-3:00pm (on call only)
Monday - Friday: 7:00am-7:00pm
Alternating Saturdays: 7:00am-3:00pm