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Thread: MRI Scan - access and experience

  1. #1
    Senior Member Lighttouch's Avatar
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    Mar 2011

    MRI Scan - access and experience

    I've been having lots of pain in my left lumber region for well over two years now and I take the most powerful pain killers but they don't seem to have much affect. So my pain threshold has risen sky high to cope.

    I don't really complain as there is no cure. I did decide to put my mind at rest by asking my GP if I could have an MRI scan just in case I'm trapping nerves - etc - no problem.

    I didn't know that doctor's appointments can take a week before you're seen. If I want to see my doctor I can get in the same day or the following morning.

    The appointment for the MRI Scan was for 6pm. I drove to the hospital, parked in the accessible bay section near A&E and used my crutch to aid my walking. There were few people around. I headed towards a swing door and before I opened it a man flung it open for me - who needs automatic doors!

    The reception was just inside. The receptionists told me I was at the wrong end of the hospital - before I had time to ask for a wheelchair and porter the ambulance driver had observed me and followed me in anticipating that I'd need a wheelchair and push.
    We whizzed down the corridors and signed in - I was the only patient in the waiting room. Prior to arriving I told the MRI Scanning team I'd like assistance to get re-dressed as my fingers can't cope with fiddly things.

    After an initial questions and answers session about any metal on my being the only problem appeared to be a 'shunt' in my neck. The young woman went off to ask if that would be an issue. She returned to ask if it was programmable - well as it was inserted into my spinal cord neck region in 1977 I reckoned we were safe as the technology was pretty basic in those days - MRI scans didn't exist.

    I'd passed the verbal test so she said I'd need to wear a gown and transfer onto a non-metalic wheelchair. To speed things up she offered to strip me down to my undies and socks - why not!

    Before entering the room where the scanner was they repeated - you're sure you have nothing metal in your eyes. I asked what would happen if I did - you don't want to know what would happen if you did.

    Getting on the moveable table wasn't too difficult with a pillow under my knees and under my head complete with headphones on blasting out Smooth Radio. I was inside this polo mint tube for about 15 minutes. My nose was about half an inch away from the top of the tube. I have been in tighter spaces in my youth as a hobby of mine was pot holing and caving - I don't suffer from confined spaces.

    Very friendly chatty staff and the young woman had me back in my jeans, t-shirt, jumper and lace-ups in no time at all. She was happy to take me back to my car through the long corridors despite it not being her job - what do porters do I wonder. Very pleasant person who obviously loved her job.

    Now I wait with baited breath to find out what it reveals.

    You couldn't have got a better service in the private sector - good old NHS.

    Have you had an MRI scan - what was your experience like.

  2. #2
    Senior Member deebee's Avatar
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    Mar 2013
    I had one in 2007,it was very noisy!

  3. #3
    Senior Member
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    Dec 2013
    I've spent an awfully long time in MRI machines over the years, including one rather extreme four hour session where we scanned all the way from the top of my head to my bottom.

    The reason why they ask about magnetic sensitive material is that the scanner magnet can rip it out of the body - it depends on the amount of material. (I used to have some academic involvement with magnetic resonance - I'll spare the gruesome details of the notorious accidents).

    Rather than transferring you to an MR compatible wheelchair, many units will undock the table from the scanner and bring it out of the scanning room to you. It depends on the policy if the unit and the preferences of the radiographer.

    One tip is to wear clothes with no metallic content, including fastenings. (Ladies - this includes metallic bra fastenings - though you could always pop to the loo or into a changing room and take off your bra). If you do this, many units are happy for you not to get changed into a gown, especially if they're scanning without infusing a contrast agent. Make sure whatever you wear is loose fitting and thin - it can get quite warm in the scanner. A thin T shirt and jogging bottoms are ideal. It's wise to take your shoes off. Of course, this approach denies you the sort of assistance Lighttouch seemed to enjoy!

    The noises are an unavoidable part of the physics of the process (it's the interaction of the changing current in the gradient coils with the high magnetic field).

    If you have a preferred type of earplugs, take them along with you. I've got a set of custom moulded earplugs, which are infinitely more comfortable than disposables. You cannot wear your own headphones, as they are magnetic and metallic - if you are in a scanner with an audio system, you have to wear the headset provided (which is pneumatic in operation, powered my MR safe transducers). All MR machines have some form of intercom, and you are almost invariably given a squeeze bulb to hold which is your "panic button".
    Last edited by Flymo; 17-04-14 at 07:58.

  4. #4
    Senior Member beau's Avatar
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    Nov 2010
    I can't have MRI's as a rule because I have an adjustable shunt fitted which is set by magnets.
    The one time I had to have an MRI I had a skull x-ray first, then the MRI, then another skull x-ray to see if the shunt setting had changed. It had so back to neurology to have it reset.

    It certainly didn't rip it out of my body.

  5. #5
    Senior Member
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    Dec 2013
    There is likely to be very little magnetic sensitive material in an adjustable shunt, though obviously enough to allow the setting to be moved by powerful magnets such as the MRI magnet.

    To add reassurance, the safety questionnaires err on the side of caution, and the nasty accidents I refer to are to do with the projectile hazard of large pieces if magnetically susceptible metal (such as metal gas cylinders) being sucked into the scanner magnet. The only situation where metal seems at risk of being ripped from the body is embedded shrapnel.

    Small magnetically susceptible implants in delicate structures, like the eye, can be moved enough by the magnet to cause damage. If it was necessary to scan someone with metal in their eye, they'd get input from an ophthalmologist first.

  6. #6
    Senior Member acheron's Avatar
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    Mar 2013
    I have MRI'S with the barium (digestive track ) so no eating after midnight the day before, get there have some anti sickness then start drinking jug fulls of barium , then the barium gets emptied (down the toilet through the stoma bag ) I tell the technician that most of the stuff has gone
    he/she say's "oh no it doesn't come out that quick you'll be fine " so I get strapped in blah ,blah .blah then two minutes after get pulled out to be told "erm there's not enough barium in you you'll have to drink more "
    but at least it's one of the least uncomfortable tests if you're not bothered about tight spaces that is

  7. #7
    I had a CT and an MRI head scan last week and a nuclear CT scan on my heart last year. My experience of Sandwell and City hospital Birmingham was on a par with yours lightouch, very caring and professional. Apparently there is an old Russian sub in the canal next to the hospital were they get the nuclear waste from (ha).

    I found the MRI scan very noisy even with the ear plugs and head phones on, maybe due to just sticking your head in?

    We moan about these places so when they do good we should say so!

    Now for a moan about them; they will not accept me on standard cardiac rehab (too high risk), Urrrrrrrrrrr I have got to wait for a one to one special service.

  8. #8
    Senior Member
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    Apr 2012
    Quote Originally Posted by notnamedbill View Post
    Now for a moan about them; they will not accept me on standard cardiac rehab (too high risk), Urrrrrrrrrrr I have got to wait for a one to one special service.
    Lol. They wouldn't take me either as I've cardiac autonomic neuropathy and at the time also had 3 prolapsed discs with nerve impingement causing painful sciatica.they said the rehab course was a bit like circuit training and it wouldn't be advisable. So I asked my GP if he could arrange some Hydrotherapy thinking it would be less strenuous but hep build my muscle strength. They refused to take me because I hadn't completed a cardiac rehabilitation course. Lol.

    So I just started a daily walking routine , at that time my PVD didn't restrict my walking distance.Im still here 7 or 8 years later so it doesn't seem to have put me at a disadvantage not being able to do the course and now my leg arteries are so furred up on a good day with a perfect blood sugar level 30 yards without having to stop is my upper limit.

    Meanwhile my super fit BIL who went to the gym 3 times a week has suffered an aortic tear and came close to exiting this world so it just goes to show sometimes being like a tortoise in the slow lane has it's advantages.

  9. #9
    Senior Member flowerangelx's Avatar
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    Feb 2013
    Both my boyfriend and myself have had MRI scans.

    Mine was straight forward, apart from having to stop for a short while because I became claustrophobic when the machine was getting closer (it only went over my leg!!!!!) but was fine after that.

    My boyfriend had complications. He has..piercings and they said he'd need to take them out...unfortunately, one of his piercings can't be removed without being re-pierced. He signed a consent form, and his piercings were fine in the end.

  10. #10
    Senior Member galeforce81's Avatar
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    Dec 2012
    I've had 2 MRI's. One 6years ago in hospital that i managed to sleep through most of!!!

    The other i had, just over 2 weeks ago and i got the results on Thursday.

    I have 3 slipped disks in my back, one of which is apparently pretty bad. They're sending me for Physio first and said if that doesn't help then i'll get injections. There's a very good chance i may need an operation though.

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