A fast, simple examination, a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a safe, totally painless way for your physician to look into your body without radiation or x‑rays. The pictures created during the exam provide sophisticated soft tissue images that can improve the diagnosis. Not always, but sometimes, Dr. Mullen needs to have a patient obtain an MRI of a body part before a definitive diagnosis or surgical plan can be discussed. We have nice working relationships with local imaging centers that have the highest powered magnets available for use today.
What is an MRI?
MRI, or Magnetic Resonance Imaging, is a noninvasive diagnostic tool that uses radiofrequency waves and the magnetic field rather than radiation to create detail pictures of your body. An MRI scan shows details that an x‑rays alone cannot. The MRI measures the energy frequencies released by the body’s cells as they react to radio waves within the magnetic field. Cells in different tissue types react differently and allow digital representations of those cells to collectively produce representative images of those tissues. There are no known side effects to having an MRI.
What is the difference between MRI and x‑rays?
One test is not "better" than the other, but the two tests show different things. An x‑rays utilizes radiation to look at the bones, their shape, and their alignment. An MRI is a way to look into the body without x‑rays and provide much more detailed information of the soft tissues of the body including the nerves, muscles, ligaments, and tendons. The exam uses radiofrequency and a magnetic field to create soft tissue images of the body.
Where will I get my MRI?
If an MRI is needed, Dr. Mullen will place the order electronically that will go directly to an imaging center contracted with your insurance. Dr. Mullen prefers certain MRI facilities that have "MSK trained" radiologists that specialize in orthopedics to interpret your scan. The placement of the electronic order happens immediately, but the imaging center will then have to verify your insurance benefits. Once approved for the test by insurance, the imaging center will call you directly to schedule your MRI. It is important for you to have provided appropriate contact information to our office, for it is that contact information that is forwarded to the imaging centers. Depending on your insurance company, this process can take from just a few days to possibly longer.
How is the MRI performed?
You will be asked to lie on a sliding table and the technologist will position you comfortably. You will be asked to remain still during the examination.
What do I need to do during the exam?
Nothing! Just lie on the table and relax. Depending on the type of exam you are having, the exam will take approximately 30 to 90 minutes. An audible sound, perceived as a click, buzz, chirp, or knocking, can be heard during the exam. You may choose to wear soft ear protection during the exam to protect your ears from the loud acoustic noise produced by the magnetic field gradient.
Will I have an injection?
Sometimes; if your physician feels it is necessary. Dr. Mullen will let you know about any injections that may be necessary before your scheduled exam. With the stronger magnets available at certain facilities, these pre-procedural injections are needed much less often than they once were.
How should I prepare for the MRI exam?
You can eat, drink, and take regularly prescribed medications prior to the exam. If you will be having a leg exam, you can bring shorts to wear. We suggest that you wear or bring with you something loose and comfortable to wear during the exam free of any metal accents or accessories, preferably without zippers. You will be asked to remove all jewelry, inclusive of any jewelry worn as a result of body piercing, removable dental work, hearing aids, and glasses. If your physician or medical provider has prescribed sedation medication for you, please arrange for someone to bring you to and from the facility on the day of your MRI.
Will my MRI be covered by my insurance?
Various insurance companies require prior authorization before the MRI can be performed. Please make certain that your insurance information is up-to-date to avoid potential delays particularly if there has been a least change.
How do I get the results of my MRI?
When the exam is finished the images will be reviewed for quality. Although we understand that you will be anxious to know the results of the study, technologists are not at liberty to discuss results with you at the time of your exam. Dr. Mullen or his Physician Assistant will discuss the results of your scan with you at the time of your follow-up appointment.