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Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Imaging Institute 15 Oct 2020

What to Expect With an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) Scan

The Diagnostic Radiology team at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi talk us through the MRI procedure

Magnetic Resonance Imaging

If you have been told that you need to have an MRI, you may be feeling a little anxious about what is involved. The Diagnostic Radiology Program team from the Imaging Institute at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, talk us through the entire MRI procedure, to help put your mind at rest.

What is an MRI scan?

MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging. It is a type of scan that uses magnetic waves to take very clear, detailed pictures of certain parts of your body. It is different from a standard X-ray as it does not use radiation. It is a completely safe, painless, and non-invasive procedure. The results of your MRI will help doctors to diagnose certain medical conditions and plan the most effective treatments.

Preparation for MRI

Before you have an MRI, you will be able to eat and drink as normal, unless otherwise directed by the MRI scheduling team. Once you arrive for your appointment, there are a series of questions and checks that the team will perform to make sure you can safely have the scan.

They will need to know if you have any medical devices, such as pacemakers or implants fitted, as the MRI uses very strong magnets, which can interfere with the way they work. You will be asked to remove any loose objects like glasses, jewelry, and watches. Things like mobile phones and credit cards need to be left outside the room, as the strong magnets can damage them.

You might need to be given an injection as part of the procedure. This involves injecting a contrast dye into your blood, which shows up on the scans and allows doctors to see certain tissues and blood vessels more clearly. You will be told in advance if this is going to happen and the team will discuss any possible side effects with you in detail.

During your MRI scan

When you enter the MRI room, the team will talk you through everything that is about to happen. It is normal to feel a little anxious or nervous, so mention any of your concerns so we can help you to feel more relaxed.

You will be asked to lie down on a table in front of the MRI scanner. A piece of equipment may be placed around the area being scanned, which is used to pick up the image data. The table will then move into the MRI machine, which is like a short tunnel, open on either end and brightly lit. It is important that you lie very still during the process as it allows us to get more accurate images and reduces the need for the procedure to be repeated. Some patients may feel a little claustrophobic when entering the machine.

The scanner can also be quite noisy as it begins to work, making ‘tapping’ sounds, which some patients may find a little alarming. The team won’t be in the same room during the scan, but control it using a computer from a separate room, so it isn’t affected by the magnets. We will talk to you the whole time via an intercom system to help put you at ease.

Depending on which part of the body is being scanned, and how many sets of images are being taken, the entire procedure can take anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes.

After your MRI scan

As the procedure is completely non-invasive, there is no recovery or downtime required and you will be able to get back to normal activities straight away. Your results will be available within 24 hours and will be sent to your doctor who will schedule a time to talk you through them.

The Diagnostic Radiology Program Team

The Diagnostic Radiology Program consists of a multidisciplinary team of caregivers who all work together before, during and after your MRI to provide you with the best possible care. Radiologists are highly trained specialists who will look at your scans and interpret the results. They are supported by radiographers and specialist nurses who are all there to assure you and meet your medical needs.

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