What is an MRI Scan?
A Magnetic Resonance Imaging, or MRI scan, is a technique which uses a combination of powerful magnets, computer technology and radio waves, to produce detailed scan of the inside of the body. These images takes thin "slices" through the body, showing bones, muscle, skin, nerves and blood vessels.
It will also scan the soft tissues, organs such as the heart, brain and liver, making it a particularly useful tool in diagnosing symptoms and planning future treatment.
How does it work?
Having an MRI scan is a fairly straightforward process, if a little daunting. Before the procedure you will be asked to remove all metal objects from your person and will be given a hospital gown to wear to make you more comfortable. After lying down on the table, the radiographer may well use straps to secure your position and to help you remain still during the scanning. The table will then slide into the "tunnel" of the scanner to begin the imaging process. It is vital that, for the duration of the scan, you remain completely still, as any movement will render the images unusable.
What is Contrast Dye?
A Contrst Dye/Medium is used when your specialist needs to have a more detailed image of your body in order to aid diagnosis. It can be an effective medium in locating and sizing existing tumours and identifying abnormal blood vessels, and is essential in evaluating the spread of any malignant mass in the brain, liver or any other vital organ. The Contrast Dye is injected into a vein in the hand or arm before you begin your MRI scan. It is virtually painless although you may feel a warm sensation as the dye enters your system. A substance called Gadolinium is now widely used in preference to the Iodine Origin dye which used to be more prevalent, but had a reputation for causing an allergic reaction in some patients.
Any Side Effects?
On very rare occasions it is possible to experience headaches, dizziness or nausea following the procedure, however; most people suffer no ill effects whatsoever. You will be advised to drink a lot of water following the scan as this will help to flush the remaining dye out of your system. Expect to receive the results of your MRI within 2 days if not sooner. Due to the expense of the procedure, most patients who are given a scan are deemed to be in urgent need of further diagnosis in order to carry on their treatment, so time is of the essence.