MRI machine

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

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What is a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) exam?

An MRI is a simple, painless and non-invasive procedure. An MRI scanner uses a strong magnet, radio waves, and a computer to make detailed images of your body. MRI has become the imaging exam of choice for many conditions,, and gives your doctor a unique “window” to look inside of your body without surgery or the ionizing radiation effects of x-rays.

MRI images can aid your physician in making a rapid, accurate diagnosis. In certain cases, it reduces the need for surgery or other diagnostic procedures.

At Dekalb Medical and Radiology Associates of Dekalb (RAD) , we utilize MRI for early diagnosis of diseases of various organ systems including the brain, spine, knee, kidney, liver,lung, heart, breast, bowel and urinary bladder.

How is the MRI exam procedure performed and how long will it take?

An MRI scanner is a very large magnet with a short round opening (gantry ) that runs through the middle. You will be asked to lie down on a comfortable, padded table. If you wish, a family member or friend may be able to sit close by you in the scan room. While in the gantry, you will not feel anything, however the machine will produce a knocking sound. This is the magnet working and it is completely normal . MRI studies are performed in a series with short breaks of time. The length of your exam depends on the type of study ordered by your doctor , usually takes approximately 15 - 45 minutes.

The technologist will be able to observe you throughout the exam. If you need anything, you will be able to communicate with the technologist at all times by intercom.

Patient Preparation for MRI Scan

Since you will be positioned within a large, very strong magnet, you must remove all loose metal objects. Doing so is important for your safety as well as that of our staff, and for proper functioning of the equipment. You may be asked to change into that is metal-free.

You will need to complete a detailed screening sheet, on which you will be asked whether or not you have any metal or other devices such as:

  • pacemaker
  • Ear implants
  • Surgical staples
  • A neuro-stimulator
  • Aneurysm clip(s)
  • Implanted drug infusion devices
  • as a welder or grinder of metal
implanted in your body that may interfere with the scan or cause injury to you. If you have any concerns or questions about that aspect of the procedure, please ask the technologist before you enter the scan room.

And you can take comfort knowing a Board Certified RAD radiologist is on-site and available for consultation at any time.

Breast MRI

Breast MRI is a highly sensitive test for detecting cancers not found in traditional mammography, including small breast lesions. It is also useful for determining the extent of cancer if there is more than one lesion. The three-dimensional image reconstruction allows radiologists to look at suspicious areas from multiple angles.

MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) uses a computer, magnetic fields and radio waves to generate images of the inside of the body. A special coil is worn around the chest to ensure the most accurate and detailed images are obtained.

Unlike mammography, breast MRI is exclusively physician-referred, which means that your doctor must determine the appropriateness of this test for you. New guidelines suggest that breast MRI be used for certain women with an especially high risk of developing breast cancer.

Your doctor may recommend a breast MRI if:

  • You've been diagnosed with breast cancer and your doctor wants to determine the extent of the cancer
  • doctor finds a suspicious area on your mammogram
  • You or your doctor can feel a mass or other lump in your breast, but it's not detectable on mammogram or ultrasound
  • Your doctor wants to monitor your opposite breast after you've been newly diagnosed or treated for breast cancer in the other breast
  • You have a suspected leak or rupture of a breast implant
  • You're at high risk of breast cancer, defined as a lifetime risk of 20 to 25 percent or greater, as calculated by risk tools that take your family history and other factors into consideration
  • have a strong family history of breast cancer or ovarian cancer
  • You have very dense breast tissue and your prior breast cancer wasn't detected on mammogram
  • You have a history of precancerous breast changes, a strong family history of breast cancer and dense breast tissue.

If you're unsure whether you're considered high risk, ask your doctor to help you determine your personal risk estimate. A referral to a breast clinic or breast health specialist may help you better understand your risk and your screening options. Staff at our Comprehensive Breast Center will assist in appropriate referral.

Breast MRI is most effective when used in addition to a mammogram or another breast-imaging test — not as a replacement for a mammogram. Although it's a very sensitive test, breast MRI can still miss some breast cancers that a mammogram will detect.


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