Monday, July 26, 2010

First MRI in a while tomorrow

I am up for my now-annual checkup (first time it has been set for a year since 2006), and one of the things called for is an MRI of my head/neck with contrast. If you are up for an MRI for the first time, you can find out more about the procedure at this site: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/mriscans.html . As the page says, "the MRI machine makes a lot of noise"-heh, that is an understatement. Ask for earplugs-they are necessary. Here is another link about MRI of the head, specifically: http://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?pg=headmr. There is a form to fill out before they do the scan, asking if one has implants or metal in the body-I always let them know about my titanium plate and crowned teeth, but by now all they should have to do is check my patient record. As far as I know, I don't have any other clips or metal bits in my body from previous surgeries or accidents. The magnets are always 'on', so nothing metal is allowed back in the area-there are ugly stories about accidents involving MRI's terrific magnetic forces.
I have never really noticed that the scan is done in a 'tube'-there is a light on in there, air flows over my head, and I always ask for a dry washcloth to be put over my eyes so I haven't personally seen how close the sides of the tube are to my head. My head is placed in a cage of sorts to hold it still. They put more sponges/wash cloth/something along side my face to keep me stable for the test (that is actually the most uncomfortable part of the test-much worse than getting the IV set up- if they happen to hit my bad ear and radiation neuropathy'd cheek area as they shove the wash cloth down between the cage and my head). Your doctor can set you up with pharmaceuticals to relax you, if you might be claustrophobic - always ask for them. The technicians can talk with you throughout the scan, so you aren't ever alone.
Don't worry about dressing up for this test. Leave all jewelry, etc. at home or you can put it in the locker in the dressing area. Piercings of any kind and anywhere on you should be taken off, of course. Another modern wrinkle-if you have a tattoo, you might find it a hot spot during an MRI-it heats up iron-based inks.

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