Preparing for an MRI
In preparation for an MRI scan, your doctor and an MRI technologist will need to know the following:
- If you have an allergy to any medications: You may have an allergic reaction to the contrast material used. It is best to mention any known allergies to your doctor and technologist as a precaution.
- If you have a known health condition: Diabetes, sickle cell anaemia, kidney disease or other types of conditions may prevent you from being able to have an MRI using contrast material due to the adverse effects it can have on the body.
- If you are pregnant
- If you have metal implants in your body: Your doctor will need to assess whether an MRI scan is safe for you. If you have heart or blood vessel devices (coronary artery stent, a pacemaker, an ICD / implantable cardioverter-defibrillator), metal pins, clips, metal heart valve or other metal parts in the body (artificial limbs, dental work or braces), a medicine infusion pump, cochlear implant, or cosmetic metal implants (including tattooed eyeliner or in your ears).
- If you have recently had surgery on a blood vessel
- If you have an intrauterine (IUD) device in place: This is a type of birth control method.
- If you are typically nervous or suffer anxiety when in confined spaces (claustrophobic)
- If you wear any medicine patches: An MRI scan can burn a patch site on the body.
You may be advised to arrange for someone to drive you home safely following an MRI, especially if you have been given a sedative to help you relax because you are particularly nervous about being in a confined space for a lengthy period.
If your abdomen or pelvis is the area your doctor wishes to concentrate on, you may be asked not to eat or drink anything several hours before the scan is done. For any other area being scanned, it may be absolutely fine for you to eat normally or continue to take your usual medications on schedule. If necessary, your doctor will instruct otherwise.
As with any test or procedure that involves some degree of risk, you may need to sign a consent form once potential complications have been clearly discussed with you.
There is no need to feel in the dark about what the scan will involve or what you can expect to go through. Your doctor can help you to understand what this scan will involve, how it will work, what you are likely to experience and how to interpret the results.