MRI can detect disease in structures throughout the body including the brain, eyes, heart, neck, shoulders, spine, heart, liver, kidney, spleen, pancreas, and the pelvis and hips. MRI can also provide amazing images of joints in the shoulder, wrist, ankle, and foot.MRI/MRAFrequently Asked Questions

What is MRI?
What is MRA?
How does MRI work?
Who can’t have MRI?
Is there any preparation for my MRI study?
What can I expect during my MRI study?
Is MRI safe?
I’m afraid I’ll feel claustrophobic inside the magnet. Can’t I just get an open MRI instead?
Where can I get my MRI/MRA study?

MRI MachineWhat is MRI?
MRI (also known as MR) is a safe, noninvasive diagnostic imaging procedure. MRI uses radio waves and a magnet to produce precise, detailed images of various tissues in the body. These images are used for detecting and treating various diseases in their early stages, such as heart disease, stroke, and cancer. MRI can detect disease in structures throughout the body including the brain, eyes, heart, neck, shoulders, spine, heart, liver, kidney, spleen, pancreas, and the pelvis and hips. MRI can also provide amazing images of joints in the shoulder, wrist, ankle, and foot.
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What is MRA?
MRA stands for magnetic resonance angiography. It uses the same technology as MRI, but is used specifically to study blood vessels to detect stroke and disease in the head, neck, lungs, kidneys, and legs. The preparation and procedure for MRA is the same as for MRI. Typically a contrast material called gadolinium is injected intravenously to make the blood vessels show up more clearly. Because gadolinium is a natural mineral dye, patients are not prone to allergic reactions.
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How does MRI work?
MRI Scan
Often patients confuse MRI with CT. While CT uses x-rays to obtain images of the body, which exposes the patient to small amounts of radiation, MRI DOES NOT use x-rays. Instead, MRI uses radio waves, a magnet, and computer software to obtain two- and three-dimensional (3D) images of the inside of the body. The MRI system itself is composed of a large, circular tube containing a powerful magnet. At Diagnostic Imaging Associates (DIA) we use mid-field 0.6 Tesla (T) OPEN high-field 1.5 Tesla (T) magnets. Tesla is a metric unit that is related to the strength of the MRI unit’s magnetic field. Studies show that a 1.5 T magnet produces the best images.

When the patient is inside the MRI unit’s magnetic field, tiny MRI Scanparticles in the body called protons are forced to line up and spin in the same direction. While the protons are aligned, radio waves are sent into the magnetic field. These signals disturb the protons and make them spin in different directions. When the signal is stopped, the protons line up again and release energy. This energy is measured by the surface coils that are positioned around the area of the body being studied. When turned on, the coils are like special antennae that receive the energy. Diseased tissue emits response signals that vary dramatically from those of normal tissue. The knocking or thumping heard inside the magnet is the sound of the coils being turned on and off as they measure the energy from the disturbed protons. The computer then takes these measurements from the coils and constructs cross-sectional and 3D images of the body’s structures and tissues.
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Who can’t have MRI?
MRI scans are not recommended for patients with pacemakers or any implants containing metal such as pins, screws, or aneurysm clips. Patients with dental fillings or braces can have MRI scans, though images taken around the mouth area may be distorted.

Because the long-term effects of MRI on an unborn baby are unknown, pregnant women are usually advised against having MRI.
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Is there any preparation for my MRI study?
Before your MRI study, someone from our office will call you to go over any necessary preparation requirements. Typically patients are instructed not to eat four hours before their MRI study.
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What can I expect during my MRI study?
Before your MRI study, you will be asked about any allergies and previous surgeries. MRI ScanYou will also be asked specific questions concerning pacemakers, metal plates or screws, or surgical staples and aneurysm clips. If there is a possibility that you have metal in your body, a screening x-ray may be taken to determine if you can have MRI.

After your medical interview, you will be asked to remove any jewelry, hair clips, hearing aids, or other objects that may interfere with the MRI study. You may also be asked to change into an examination gown if your clothes have metal buttons or zippers. MRI ScanAfter changing into a patient gown, you will be led to the MRI suite. If necessary, a contrast medium may be injected intravenously. Contrast is a special liquid that highlights the tissue to make subtle differences or pathology easier to see. Allergic reactions to contrast are rare. However, if you feel discomfort or nausea at any time during the study, do not hesitate to alert the technologist. You will be able to communicate with the technologist via intercom throughout the entire study.

Next, the technologist will position you on the table of the MRI unit. A surface coil will be positioned around the part of the body being studied (eg, the shoulder). Surface coils act like an antenna to receive the radio waves from the MRI system. It is normal to feel heat around the area of the surface coil. But if at any time this feeling becomes intense or uncomfortable, please alert the technologist. It is better to stop and restart the test than suffer.

Once you are properly positioned, the table will begin moving you into the MRI tunnel until the area being studied is in the center of the magnet. It is essential that you remain completely still during the study. You may even be asked to hold your breath. This is because movement can blur the images, making the study less accurate. Depending on your study, several different sequences may need to be performed. A sequence is one set of images taken from a certain plane through the body (eg, down the middle, or through the center). Depending on which MRI study you are having and how many sequences need to be performed, your examination can take anywhere from 10 minutes to almost an hour.

For most patients, the technologist will offer special goggles and headsets that help to block out the knocking sounds of the surface coils. Patients can watch their favorite cable TV shows or listen to the radio.

After the necessary images have been taken and have been quickly reviewed for quality purposes, you will be free to go home. The radiologist will then examine the films again in more detail and report the findings to your referring physician. Your referring physician will discuss the results with you and make a diagnosis based on the findings and your medical history.
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Is MRI safe?
Yes. MRI involves no radiation and is non-invasive. Some MRI studies do involve injecting a contrast medium which can cause an allergic reaction. However, allergic reactions are rare and may only involve a bad headache.
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I’m afraid I’ll feel claustrophobic inside the magnet. Can’t I just get an open MRI instead?
Before you request an open MRI over a high-field study, it is important for you to be aware that all MRI units are not created equal. Following are the Top Ten Reasons to Have a High-field MRI:

  1. High-field MRI units actually have a wider front to back opening than low-field (open) MRI units (60 cm versus 47 cm = 5 inches smaller, front to back).
  2. High-field MRI is typically twice as fast as low-field MRI.
  3. High-field MRI has higher resolution, which produces superior quality images with less blurring.
  4. High-field MRI can accurately show all the structures and organs of small children because of its high resolution, making it better for children compared with low-field MRI.
  5. High-field MRI produces thinner slices, so smaller abnormalities won’t be missed.
  6. High-field MRI can detect early stroke in 40 seconds with 100% accuracy. Low-field MRI cannot adequately do the same.
  7. High-field MRI detects subtle calcium deposits and hemorrhage (bleeding) that low-field MRI might miss.
  8. High-field MRI is preferred by most medical specialists. Many specialists will not treat or operate based on low-field MRI findings, which means you may have to obtain a repeat study on high-field MRI.
  9. Insurance plans are starting to refuse patients high-field MRI if they have already undergone low-field MRI. This may delay your treatment by a specialist who is doubtful of your low-field MRI findings.
  10. High-field MRI costs the same as low-field MRI but offers you faster service and better quality images.

We understand that being inside the magnet of a high-field MRI unit can be intimidating. In order to make our MRI patients more comfortable, we offer special goggles and headsets that allow the patient to watch TV shows or listen to the radio. With the goggles and the extra-wide opening on our MRI units, we experience only a 1% rejection rate due to claustrophobia. This is the same rejection rate as “open”, low-field MRI units. In addition, patients who tend toward claustrophobia can have their referring physician prescribe intravenous Valium, which they can pick up before coming to their MRI appointment. Before the study, one of our radiologists or technologists will administer the Valium.
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Where can I get my MRI/MRA study?
Diagnostic Imaging Associates offers high-field MRI studies at three convenient locations in Delaware - Omega MRI, Wilmington MRI, and Glasgow Imaging.

To schedule an appointment, please call the Central Scheduling Center at (302) 369-4342.
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