|Magnetic Resonance Imaging or MRI uses magnetic fields, radio frequency energy, and powerful computers to produce images of the structures inside the body. Without the use of x-rays, MRI provides views of the body that can make diagnosis and treatments more accurate. Pueblo offers two types of MRI scanners. In our whole body scanners the patient lies on a table that supports the patient within the MRI scanner. Unlike many other MRI units, Pueblo Radiology's MR unit features a patient-friendly, open short-bore design that reduces patient anxiety and minimizes claustrophobia. Because our MRI is a "high field unit", the images are of the highest quality while minimizing the length of the exam. Actual exam times are between twenty and forty-five minutes. |
For patients with extreme claustrophobia, Pueblo Radiology has a traditional "open" MRI unit that is designed to alleviate the claustrophobia some patients experience in a typical MRI scanner.
I'm scheduled for a MRI exam, is there anything special I need to know prior to the test?
Different MRI exams require specific preps. For information specific to your MRI test go to Patient Preparation Instructions.
What happens during my MRI scan?
You will lie on a table connected to the scanner. The table will move through a large tunnel in the scanner that is open on both ends. During the exam, you will be required to remain still while the images are being taken. A series of images takes about 3 minutes to acquire. Most exams require 4 or 5 series for a complete study. During the actual imaging, you will hear a series of knocking noises as the MRI unit is scanning. Our staff will give you earplugs or headphones with music to maintain your comfort during the exam. You can bring your own favorite CD if you like. Some MRI exams require an injection of intravenous (IV) contrast called Gadolinium. The injection is done through a vein in your arm and is coordinated with your scan.
Is the contrast safe?
Millions of MRI exams are done yearly in the U.S. and throughout the world. The contrast material contains a substance called gadolinium and is considered extremely safe. However, like all other medications, there can be some side effects (rare). Some patients can have allergic reactions to the contrast agent, which can range from minor (hives, itching, slight nausea) to severe. If you have had prior allergic reactions to MRI contrast or have poor renal function, you may be more likely to have a reaction. Please notify our office when scheduling if you have poor kidney function or have had a reaction to contrast.
Can everyone have an MRI test?
Generally yes, but because of the strength of magnetic field used in MRI, certain patients need to be screened prior to having an MRI exam. The following is a list of conditions that need investigation prior to scheduling an MRI test.
- Aneurysm clips
- Artificial heart valves
- Cardiac pacemaker
- Metallic implants or shrapnel
- Permanent (tattoo) eyeliner
- Previous gunshot wound
- Sheet metal worker
- Drug patches
- Any type of subcutaneous pump or stimulator
The presence of any of these conditions may compromise the diagnostic quality of your scan and may pose a hazard to your health. Please notify us if you have any of the conditions listed above.
How long does MRI scanning take?
Our scanner at Pueblo is the latest generation of MRI scanner available in the Santa Barbara area and is considered the fastest in scanning time. Most scans take from 20 to 45 minutes for a complete study.
What should I wear?
For most exams, you will be given a gown to wear. However, if you wear all cotton clothing without metallic zippers or snaps we may be able to scan you in your own clothes.
I have had MRI exams before, is that important?
Yes, prior exams may help our radiologist in comparing the current exam with your previous studies if they are of the same body part. Notify us where your previous MRI exams were done when of scheduling your appointment.
How do I get the results of my MRI exam?
Your doctor will get the results of your scan within 24 hours of your test; in fact in many cases, we will have your exam results back to your doctor's office within hours of the completion of your exam. Please contact your M.D. so that they can discuss results with you and answer any of your questions. If you are returning to your M.D. immediately following your MRI scan, please inform your technologist.
What happens after my MRI exam?
You should be able to return to your normal activities. If you are given contrast material, the contrast will be removed from your body by your kidneys within a few hours.
What if I am claustrophobic?
Because of the open feeling design of our scanners, we have found many patients who were claustrophobic with other MRI units have no problems with our machine. If you wish to look at our MRI before your scheduled exam, we encourage you to come in and we will be glad to answer any questions. If you are extremely claustrophobic, inform your M.D. and notify our office prior to your appointment and we will do our best to make your exam as comfortable as possible.