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The MRI experience

One of our clients shares her firsthand experience of going through a MRI scan

If you’ve just been referred by your doctor or medical specialist for your first MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging), what would you like to know?

Of course, there’s plenty of information online about MRIs… what they’re for, what they do, how they work. Further, several days prior to your booking, you should receive a checklist from the MRI centre to which you’ve been referred. But what’s the actual experience like? And what can you do to make it as comfortable as possible?

What to Wear… or not Wear:

For your MRI, you’ll be asked to change into a hospital gown, then given a locker for your clothes and belongings. So, leave your valuables at home and choose clothes and shoes that are easy to take off/put on. You can keep your underwear on for the MRI.  However, ladies, not your bra if it has metal clips and/or underwire. It’s very important that you wear no metal for the procedure including metal fasteners or body piercings. However, in addition to metal-free underwear, you can keep a t-shirt on, as long as there’s no metal in the label embroidery or elsewhere. You can also wear socks. Both help as it can be quite cool in the MRI room. Some people also bring a sleep mask.

Body Metal:

Please check with your referring doctor and the MRI staff if you have any metal in your body or concerns about your dental work.

Aids & Equipment:

I’m short-sighted so am happy that I can keep my glasses on (even with metal hinges) until just before the procedure when the staff will put them safely away. If you wear other aids e.g. contact lenses or hearing aids, that MRI checklist should provide you with instructions.

You can also use mobility aids to enter the MRI room. Your aid will then be taken and placed safely outside the room, then returned to you at the end of the scan.

MRI image

Contrast Dye:

It’s not used so often now, but your doctor/medical specialist may order a contrast dye injection before the MRI commences.

The Procedure:

Before the MRI:

  • Check-in at the MRI centre with your completed paperwork.
  • Wait to be called into the MRI rooms.
  • Change into a hospital gown.
  • Go through final checks with one of the staff.
  • You’ll be taken into the main MRI room, then you’ll lie on the MRI platform.
  • You should be offered a blanket and a pillow for under your knees (depending on the
    location of the scan).
  • You can ask the MRI staff about how long the procedure will take.
  • Earplugs and headphones will be provided. You may be asked for your choice of music – though good luck with hearing much over the MRI!
  • You’ll be given a buzzer so you can contact the staff during the MRI e.g. to warn them of an imminent sneeze!
  • Make sure that you’re comfortable as you now need to lie still. Very still.
  • Now the platform moves you into the MRI.

During the MRI:

The MRI staff will have done their best to make you feel comfortable. Modern MRI machines usually have soft lighting inside too. However, there’s not much to look at, so close your eyes and relax. Some people doze (yes, it’s quite possible), some meditate and some imagine they’re in a favourite location. Perhaps visit your favourite beach, follow your favourite walking track or plan your next holiday.

MRI machines are quite noisy (hence those earplugs). However, I find the various rhythms of the MRI at work to be quite interesting and have wondered if they’ve inspired any musicians. The staff will check with you during the MRI to ensure that you’re feeling ok.

After the MRI:

All you now need to do is get dressed and go home!

Disclaimer:

This article is based on the personal experiences of the author and must not be regarded as providing medical or professional information or instructions.

~ PMPP client

Better Health MRI factsheet: 

https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/mri-scan#bhc-content

Feeling a bit anxious about an upcoming MRI? Hopefully this blog has helped you to feel informed ahead of the scan. You may also enjoy these blogs which focus on managing and minimising stress:

Patient in MRI machine

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