What Is MRI?
MRI is a test that produces very clear pictures of the human body without the use of X-rays. It uses a large magnet, radio waves and a computer to produce these images.
MRI can often detect damaged areas in the brain or spinal cord that would be missed by other imaging techniques such as a CAT scan.
Is the MRI Exam Safe?
Yes. The MRI exam poses no risk to the average person if appropriate safety guidelines are followed. Many people who have had heart surgery and people with the following medical devices can be safely examined with MRI (the metals used in these surgeries are not "magnetic" and the person can be safely placed in the MRI machine):
- Many cardiac valve replacements (check with your doctor)
- Disconnected medication pumps
- Vena cava filters
- Brain shunt tubes for hydrocephalus
Some conditions may require precautions prior to having an MRI exam or preclue you from having one. Tell your doctor if you have any of the following conditions:
- Heart pacemaker (older version)
- Older version os cerebral aneurysm clips (metal clip on a blood vessel in the brain)
- Implanted insulin pump (for treatment of diabetes), narcotics pump (for pain medication), or implanted spinal cord stimulators for chronic pain
- Metal in the eye or eye socket
- Cochlear (ear) implant for hearing impairment
- Implanted spine stabilization rods (newer titanium rods and plates are fine)
- Severe lung disease (such as tracheomalacia or bronchopulmonary dysplasia)
- Obesity (weighing more than 300 pounds may limit which machine can be used)
- Not able to lie on your back for 30 to 60 minutes
- Claustrophobia (which can be handled with sedation)