MRI scan can be performed for many patients, including pregnant women, and children. However, it is not suggested to perform an MRI scan for pregnant women in minor health problems. The procedure is also not recommended for the patients who have metal devices in their bodies, such as pacemakers and shunt for hydrocephalus. In addition, an MRI scan is not suggested for patients who are having chemotherapy treatment as well.
20 to 45 minutes depending on the type of study being performed
Generally, there is no need for preparation before the MRI scan. However, depending on the case, doctors might want you to fast for several hours or in contrast, it might be recommended to drink a lot of water before the MRI scan. Since the MRI scanners involve powerful magnets, it is important to pay attention to remove all metal objects in your body, including jewelry.
During the MRI scan procedure patients lie down. Depending on the purpose of the MRI scan, the body part undergoes the MRI varies. It might be the patient’s head in the cases of MRI brain scan or neck MRI, or it might be the legs for the cases of abdominal MRI and lumbar spine MRI. It is very important to stay still during the MRI scan procedure since movement might affect the results. In some cases, doctors may offer an MRI with contrast to get a clearer image.Contrast is a chemical substance that enters the patient’s body through injection and then spreads with blood. Though, contrast is not necessitated in all the cases of MRI scan procedure.
MRI scan is a non-invasive procedure that does not involve anesthesia. Therefore, there is no recovery period of an MRI scan.
MRI scan does not involve X-rays or any other type of possibly dangerous radiation. Therefore, there are no risks involved in the procedure. However, as a precaution, it is not recommended for pregnant women to get an MRI scan specifically during the first couple of months of pregnancy. In addition to that, it is also not recommended to have an MRI scan for the patients who have metal implants in their body, such as pacemakers, artificial hearts, etc.
Even though there is wide research, there is no clear data regarding the MRI scan side effects.
When Should I Undergo an MRI Scan?
If the patient is suffering from different kinds of health problems such as cancer, spinal injuries, bone injuries, or soft tissue problems, doctors may decide on an MRI scan. The most common types of MRI scans are head MRI, abdominal MRI, and spine MRI that involves cervical spine MRI and lumbar spine MRI.
Why Sometimes Doctors Perform MRI with Contrast?
Contrast is a chemical substance that is used in order to make patient's some of the body parts more visible, causing a more detailed MRI scan. However, the choice of MRI with contrast depends on a kind of MRI. Doctors may perform brain MRI with contrast but decide for MRI without contrast in other cases.
CT Scan vs. MRI Scan – What Is the Difference?
CT scan (or CAT scan) involves X-rays, which, although in low doses, may be potentially hurtful to some patients. Since the MRI scan involves radio waves and magnets, there is no risk for the radiation. However, in some cases, CT scanner might provide more detailed imaging than an MRI scanner. Therefore, your doctor would decide on performing whether CT scan or MRI scan depending on your condition
This content is written and reviewed by our medical content team in August, 2019.