Before getting an MRI, you might be wondering what preparation is required. Do you have to fast? Are there any special steps you need to take? What should you expect? Fortunately, in many cases, the preparation needed for an MRI is minimal.
An MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging scan, gives you a detailed, 3-dimensional image of the inside of your body using magnets and radio waves. MRI machines don’t use radiation, unlike other forms of imaging such as x-ray.
Usually, you won’t need to make any dietary changes before an MRI. Lighter foods are often recommended to ensure you don’t feel too full or uncomfortable during the scan. It’s also wise to limit the amount of water you drink, as scans can take up to an hour and you won’t be able to use the restroom once your scan begins. You should take all medications as prescribed, unless instructed otherwise by your doctor.
At Gateway Diagnostic Imaging, we ask you to change into a cotton gown when you arrive. You can wear your regular underwear under your gown during your scan, unless your underwear contains metal (e.g., a bra with an underwire or clasp). Because the MRI machine uses magnets, any metal on your body during the scan can disrupt the results. This also means you should remove all jewelry before your scan.
Yes! You can shower before your exam as you typically do, but avoid applying lotion, deodorant, or moisturizers that may contain microscopic bits of metal. As with your clothing, the metal in cosmetics can cause problems during your scan.
After changing into your gown, you’ll be taken into the room where the MRI machine is. The technologist will have you lie down on the machine’s table and, once you’re settled in, they’ll slide it into a large cylinder. You’ll be asked to stay as still as possible to ensure you get the clearest results. The technologist may talk to you throughout the scan using an intercom. You’ll also hear a wide variety of noises, like tapping, knocking, and banging. To protect your ears and help you to drown out the noises, you’ll get a pair of headphones and can choose the type of music you’d like to hear. The scan can take anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour.
If you struggle with claustrophobia, there are a variety of options that can help you successfully complete your MRI scan. At Gateway Diagnostic Imaging, we offer 3T wide-bore MRI at all locations. These machines are more comfortable and can lead to less anxiety and claustrophobia for patients.
Many patients find that being able to listen to music distracts them and reduces their feelings of claustrophobia. Others prefer earplugs to better block out the noises from the machine. You can choose whichever helps you to feel the most relaxed during your scan.
If your symptoms are severe, your doctor may prescribe you a sedative to help you fall asleep during your scan.
In general, you can treat your MRI appointment like any other doctor’s visit. Be sure to bring any documentation you might need, like your ID, insurance information, and your doctor’s orders, and arrive early so we can make sure everything is correct before your appointment time.
MRI scans are straightforward procedures that require little preparation. In most cases, you can eat and drink normally, shower, and take your medications before your MRI. Learn more about receiving an MRI scan at Gateway.