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Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a medical imaging technique that uses magnetic field and radio waves to generate images of the body. It can produce detailed images of the body organs in thin sections and 3-dimensional views.
An undetected metal implant which may be affected by the strong magnetic field.
Possible effects on early pregnancy. MRI is generally avoided in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Unless there is a strong medical reason to use MRI, your doctor may use other methods of imaging, such as ultrasound, on you if you are pregnant.
How do you prepare for an MRI?
Inform your doctor if you:
Are pregnant or suspect yourself to be pregnant.
Have claustrophobia or fear of confined spaces. Highlight this when making an appointment. Your MRI scan may be performed under sedation. You will need to fast if sedation is required.
Have medical devices or implants in your body. They include the following:
Cardiac pacemaker or defibrillator
Clips, staples, screws, rods or plates
In most cases, surgical staples, plates and screws that have been in place for more than 4 weeks pose no risks during an MRI. Bring along the device or implant information card (if any) during your scan appointment.
What can you expect in an MRI?
MRI is a completely non-invasive procedure and there are no known side effects. The procedure is painless.
The procedure takes 30 – 45 minutes for one body region.
However, it may take longer if:
Contrast injection is required
Multiple body regions are to be scanned
There is a need for complex studies
You are under sedation
Before the procedure
You will be asked to:
Change into a gown and remove all loose items such as jewellery, watch, keys, coins, smartphone, wallet and cards. Do keep your personal belongings in the locker provided.
Fill in a questionnaire about your medical history. Indicate on the questionnaire if you have any medical device/implant or aesthetic procedures performed such as permanent eyeliner, magnetic eyelashes and skin tattoo. The radiographer will go through the questionnaire with you and explain how the scan will be performed.
During the procedure
You can expect the following during the procedure:
You will need to lie on the scan table. Headphones or ear plugs will be provided to you. A call bell/button will also be provided in case you need to call the radiographer during the scan.
The body region to be examined will be covered by a coil which acts as signal receiver.
The scan table will move into the magnet bore or tunnel so that the scan region is positioned at the centre of the magnetic field. There will be intermittent knocking and humming sounds throughout the scan. This is caused by the changes in gradient fields in the magnet.
You will need to remain still during the scan. Any body movement will cause blurry images and the scan will have to be repeated.
You should not feel any discomfort during the scan. However, some patients may feel warm after some time in the magnet. This is normal but if it bothers you, you can press the call bell and inform the radiographer.
Sometimes, your doctor may order your MRI scan with contrast injection. A contrast medium acts like a dye when it is injected into your blood vessel. It helps to delineate the body organs and soft tissues for better visualisation.
Allergic reaction to MRI contrast is extremely rare. If you feel any discomfort after the contrast injection, inform the nurse or radiographer immediately.
Care and recovery after an MRI
You can leave the hospital after the scan and proceed with your day as usual.
If you were sedated for your MRI scan, the nurse would monitor you for a short period of time. You can leave once you are assessed to be fit to be discharged.
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