Throughout my career as an MRI technologist I've discovered many things that are key to having a successful test. By following some, or all of the tips listed below you can increase your chances of getting a high quality exam with very little stress. A high quality exam can lead to a more accurate diagnosis and set you on the road to treatment even faster.
- RESEARCH: By taking advantage of this site you are already well on your way to understanding MRI scans. The more you know about this test the less you will fear the unknown and the less likely you are to believe some of the stories people tell about MRI's. I have had countless patients tell me after the scan, "Wow, that wasn't bad at all. It was nothing like all of the stories I had heard from [the guy at work/my brother-in-law/neighbor/fill in the blank...]. I'm very relieved!". The bottom line is: do your research and don't believe the stories.
- PRACTICE: Practice at home by lying on a couch with a cloth or sleeping mask over your eyes, while listening to the MRI sounds. You can dowload the sounds for your MP3 player by CLICKING HERE. Keep your arms by your side and your feet uncrossed. Do your best to focus on lying perfectly still for as long as possible. Also work on what you will visualize during the test. I've had many patients tell me that they will be at the beach or on vacation in their mind during the exam. If you can get to the point where you are able to relax during the noises and feel comfortable even before you arrive, you will be well on your way to having a successful test.
- MEDITATE: Use the power of prayer and meditation to help ease your anxiety before and during the test. Learn about and practice deep breathing techniques and relaxation methods. The internet is full of resources that discuss these methods at length.
- BE HEALTHY: If you are fighting a cough or cold you may wish to think about rescheduling your test as you will be lying flat on your back during the exam. You may also be required to hold your breath for certain portions of the test. Both of these things will be difficult if you are ill.
- DRINK: (No, not alcohol) Drink plenty of fluids the night before and the day of the exam. This will allow you to not only feel better but may come in handy if you need a contrast injection. Just be sure not to drink so much that you need to use the bathroom during the test. Just a little extra should do fine.
- SHOW UP EARLY: Give yourself a little extra time to get to the facility. This will reduce stress if there are detours or traffic problems. You will still make it on time. Arriving early at the facility will also allow you to get acclimated to the atmosphere so you can start to relax without feeling rushed. You can also use this time to find and use the restroom facilities.
- ASK QUESTIONS: Feel free to call the facility where you will be having the test to ask any questions that you have. You want to be very prepared ahead of time to minimize any anxiety on the day of the test. Also when you arrive make sure the technologist answers all of your questions and walks you verbally through the test process. In addition feel free to email me and I will answer anything I can about MRI in general. I can be contacted using the email link here or at the top of each page.
- GET MEDS: If after research and practice you still feel that you may be unable to comfortably complete the test be sure you call your doctor and let them know. They can prescribe mild oral medication that will help you to relax through the test. Don't wait until the last minute for this as you may have to pick up your prescription from a pharmacy. They DO NOT usually provide the meds at the MRI facility unless your doctor has specifically ordered a sedation MRI! Also be aware that you will need to make arrangements for a ride. After taking sedation medication you cannot drive.