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Physicians and Residents
MRI plays an important role in testing and evaluating patients diagnostically. Mercy Mt. Shasta offers our patients advanced MRI technology in our hospital, providing them quicker diagnosis and treatment options.
For most applications, it is a feet-first entry machine, which greatly decreases anxiety for those patients who are not comfortable in small spaces. And because the technology is so efficient and fast, full-body scans can be done without having to stop and reposition the patient – making the MRI experience much better for the patient. This MRI is also much quieter than other models and can reduce noise by up to 97 percent.
Our advanced MRI equipment allows doctors to view patients from head to toe with three-dimensional imaging. MRI can be used for the following exams:
How does the MRI scanner work?
Your body is composed of small particles called atoms. Most of the body is composed of Hydrogen atoms that under normal circumstances spin around at random. However, when you are placed within a strong magnetic field, the hydrogen atoms line up and spin in the same direction as the magnetic field. When a radio frequency wave is transmitted through the tissues in the body the Hydrogen atoms produce a signal. These signals are measured by the MRI System to produce an image.
Why is MRI important?
This technology is important because MRI scans illustrate more clearly than ever before, the difference between healthy and diseased tissue, and can provide important information about the brain, spine, joints and internal organs. It can lead to early detection and treatment of disease and has no known side effects. Consequently, your physician will be better able to determine the most appropriate treatment for you.
What causes the noise in the scanner?
The noise that the scanner creates is the electrical current rising within the wires of the gradient magnet. The current in the wires are opposing the main magnet field; the stronger the field the louder the gradient noise.
What is the difference between MRI and CT?
Both MRI and CT create cross-sectional images of the body. The main difference is that MRI uses a large magnet and radio waves to produce images where as a CT scanner uses ionizing radiation. The systems complement each other well as they both have their inherent strengths and weaknesses. CT, however, can only directly acquire transverse and coronal images, whereas MRI can directly acquire slices in any plane and is superior when it comes to soft tissue contrast.
How long will the exam take?
MRI exams take 30 to 45 minutes. It may take more, or less, time depending on what part of the body is being studied.
I have metal in my body from prior surgery. Can I have an MRI?
Most people who have metal in their body after surgery can have an MRI. For example, patients with hip or knee replacements can have an MRI after surgery, though some implanted devices require some time after surgery. Certain devices can never go into the MRI machine. Heart pacemakers (unless MRI safe), and some implanted pumps and nerve stimulators cannot go, or require specific conditions to go, in the MRI scanner. Some brain aneurysm clips (particularly older ones) might not go into the scanner. We would need more specific information: type, where and when the clip was placed. If you have had any prior surgery, you must let the technologist know prior to the scan. Also, if there is any chance there may be metal in any part of your body from a prior injury or from grinding metal, please inform the scheduler at time of booking and technologist prior to the scan.
Do I really have to hold still?
Yes. An MRI exam is composed of a series of images. Each series takes 2 to 5 minutes. Any movement during this time causes the pictures to be ""blurry"" and limits the radiologist's ability to interpret the study. Also, we focus the exam on a specific part of the body. If you move, the area we are focusing on may no longer be in the proper position.
Medications - It is important for you to keep to your regular medication schedule. Please take all the medications that have been prescribed to you by your doctor. You should bring a list of all of your medications with you at the time of your appointment. That list should include the name of the medication, the dose, the frequency that you take the medication and the time of your last dose.
Food and drink - You may eat or drink anything you like before a typical MRI test. If you are having your abdomen scanned it will be necessary for you to fast for 4 (four) hours before the test.
When to arrive - You should arrive 30 minutes before your scheduled appointment. This allows time for you to complete any necessary paper work, change your clothes for your MRI Exam, answer questions from our technologist about your medical history and if necessary, prepare you for an intravenous injection before we start your scan.
What to wear - For all MRI scans, you most likely will change into a hospital gown. It is best, however, if you leave valuable items at home. If you are wearing anything metallic, such as jewelry, dentures, eyeglasses, or hearing aids that might interfere with the MRI scan, we will ask you to remove them. You should not have your credit cards in your pockets during the scan because the MRI magnet can affect the magnetic strip on the card. Patients who are having a brain / head scan should not wear make-up because some brands contain metal.
Intravenous preparation - Many of our patients receive a contrast agent intravenously (IV - in a vein in the arm) during their MRI scan in order to give a clearer picture of the area being scanned. If your doctor has determined that this procedure will enhance your MRI scan results, the technologist will place an IV in your arm prior to your going into the scan.
What will I experience DURING my MRI Exam? – Scanning: Your technologist will bring you into the MRI scan room where you will lie down on the patient table. The technologist positions the part of your body to be scanned in the middle of the large cylindrical magnet. The scanner does not touch you, nor do you feel anything. Because the scanner does make a loud knocking noise when it takes the pictures, the technologist will offer you headphones to listen to music or earplugs to lessen the sound. The technologist leaves the room, but is in full view and communication with you through the observation window in the adjoining room. There is also voice communication at all times through an intercom. It is important for you to lie very still and at some points, you may be asked to briefly hold your breath as the picture is taken.
Length of MRI exam - Each MRI scan is individualized and tailored to each patient's needs. If you've had previous MRI exam, do not be concerned if this one is longer or shorter duration. After your preliminary scan, if you require a contrast medium, the technologist will bring you out of the magnet and inject the contrast into the IV placed in your arm. The technologist then returns you to your original position in the magnet. After all of the images are taken, we may ask you to wait a few moments while the radiologist reviews all the images so we can be sure we have exactly what your doctor wants. You may then get dressed and leave.
Contrast medium - Contrast mediums, or agents, highlight your organs and blood vessels and help the radiologist to see them better. At a prior time, you may have already been exposed to a contrast medium if you have had a kidney scan, angiogram or a CT scan. Patients whose examination requires the administration of a contrast medium may be asked to have blood work prior to their examination.
What should I expect AFTER my MRI Exam? - You have no restrictions after having a MRI exam and can go about your normal activities. To help eliminate the contrast medium from your body, remember to drink plenty of fluids.
When will my MRI results be ready? - All MRI scans are read by a board certified radiologist that is trained in MR imaging and dedicated to the specific area of interest for your study. After the scan has been read the results are sent to your physician, who will discuss the results with you.
We are open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Please call 530.926.9359 to make an appointment.