Archive for ‘MRI’

February 9, 2016

Centered on the Inner Athlete in YOU!

October 29, 2014

Donuts, Bagels, Claustrophobia and MRIs

1024px-Plain-BagelFor people with severe claustrophobia, MRIs can be intimidating. Even people who are only mildly claustrophobic may find MRI exams stressful – but they don’t have to!


The best imaging technologists and radiologists will always work with patients to provide feelings of safety and comfort during MRI procedures.


The first step in managing stress and claustrophobia comes in arming yourself with information. Information on how long the exam will take and how you will be positioned in the magnet can help prepare you.


Here are a few tips and tricks for the time you may find yourself in a donut-shaped machine:


  1. For many with mild claustrophobia, two things will help the most: covering your eyes and practicing visualization exercises. While this may sound “new age”, these sorts of mental exercises have been shown to get people through their MRIs. The best thing is to concentrate on breathing and on visualizing in your mind a calm, open space – one you find restful. Get that picture in your mind – a beach, a meadow, a mountain slope – someplace wide open. Get the smells and sounds in your mind as well. Keep coming back to it – it will work! This in conjunction with talking with the technologist throughout the study will get you through the test in no time.
  2. Because MRIs are loud, ear protection is provided. Some clinics offer music as well, which can be calming.
  3. If the above isn’t working, consider asking for a procedure done on an open bore magnet – the latest in technology is a more open cylinder design, still with a high field strength magnet (our Olathe clinic has such a machine!). True open MRI units may be an option as well, but those may be lower strength magnets and imaging times can be longer!
  4. If claustrophobia is still an issue, you may need to seek some help from your doctor or the radiologist. Some doctors who refer patients with claustrophobia for an MRI will write for a prescription for an anti-anxiety medication, like valium, to be taken prior to imaging. At some facilities, your radiologist will be able to provide medication, often Xanax, but make sure this is discussed with the facility beforehand as it may mean changes in how your prepare for the study, and it will require you to have someone available to drive you – no machine operating after these types of anti-anxiety meds!


Armed with this knowledge and the help of caring technologists and staff, you can survive the MRI experience. And with medical imaging comes the ability to diagnose and get you on the road to your best possible health!

Plain Bagel by Evan-Amos (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


Diagnostic Imaging Centers blogs on regularly about women’s health at and general radiology at Visit our sites for more helpful information!


October 9, 2014

MRI: Not If You’re the Tin Man

Tin Woodman by William Wallace Denslow via Wikimedia Commons Copyright Public DomainWhat are the risks of an MRI?

The main risks of MRI come from the fact that the machine is made up of a giant magnet – which is never turned off.


Safety for MRI studies relies on removing any metal on your body and fully understanding the impact of any metal within your body. Many types of metal implants, like joint replacements, are not a problem and patients with them can safely undergo MRI.


Some battery operated implants, like most pacemakers and many neurostimulators, can be adversely affected when exposed to the magnet. The safety of any implanted surgical device or metal should be thoroughly discussed before the exam – preferably at the time of scheduling.


On the day of the procedure, removing all metal (all hairpins included!) prior to entering the MRI suite is important for the safety of you, the technologist and the machine. No metal in clothing, no metal in pockets, no watches or phones!


The other main risk of MRI comes from those studies that require the injection of IV contrast. This allows us to evaluate blood vessels and the vascularity of organs and masses. This contrast contains gadolinium which is a heavy metal. Allergies or reactions can occur, although rarely. Gadolinium contrast materials should be used with caution in those at risk for kidney disease. You will be screened for the possibility of kidney disease, and your kidney function may be evaluated with a simple blood test before we give you the contrast if you have risk factors.


MRI is an amazing technology but requires strict safety precautions for everyone. We’ll be writing more about MRIs and the claustrophobic patient in our next post – stay tuned!

(Image credit: Tin Woodman by William Wallace Denslow via Wikimedia Commons Copyright Public Domain)

Diagnostic Imaging Centers blogs on regularly about women’s health at and general radiology at Visit our sites for more helpful information!


October 6, 2014

MRI: It’s a Magnet!

Magnet by AJ Cann via Flickr Copyright Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)Radiology can be confusing. How these exams work can confuse the smartest people. As radiologists, we get lots of questions. Which exams use radiation and which do not?  How safe is the exam?


Today we will attempt to answer some of your questions and concerns about magnetic resonance imaging or MRI.


MRI – how do we make images?

MRI or magnetic resonance imaging, is one way of viewing the body that uses NO radiation (a plus!). We can create amazing images of all parts of the body with… a magnet! MRI machines are loud, clunky-sounding machines made up of a giant magnet. The noise comes from the second part of the name – resonance, or radiofrequency waves. This combined with computers creates images of the body. And, oh, the things we can learn about you with this technology.


The MRI Experience

Having an MRI involves being positioned on a table and moved inside the MRI unit. The inside of the MRI is called the bore and is basically a long tube the size of which varies. We center the body part being evaluated within the bore.  Bore sizes and configurations vary depending on the magnet strength and configuration of the MRI unit.


“Open MRI” units have a more open environment for imaging.  They are often used for the claustrophobic patient or larger patients.  The open MRI units can have limitations of longer exam times and lower quality of images. This is because the signal created and used to make the images is directly related to the magnet strength – which is lower for some open magnets.


High field magnets or traditional MRI trump an open magnet when we want imaging speed and precision, so it’s highly encouraged when at all possible. It can be done! There are many ways we can help our patients be comfortable while getting the highest possible quality images.


Over the next few days we’ll talk more about MRI safety as well as limiting patient discomfort in the machine.


In the mean time, cheers to your best possible health!

(Image credit: Magnet by AJ Cann via Flickr Copyright Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0))

Diagnostic Imaging Centers blogs on regularly about women’s health at and general radiology at Visit our sites for more helpful information!


September 29, 2014

Do you like to save money? Medical costs and quality care…

Kitten by Michael Richardson via Flickr (CC BY 2.0) note derivWhen it comes to lowering medical costs – the power can be in your hands! (Would you believe it? Because it doesn’t always feel that way…). The old motto about the customer always being right (customer = patient = you) is true. Shopping around can have a profound effect on the market, both in terms of pricing and level of quality. But this only matters IF you know you have options…


Price transparency in medicine is a relatively new concept. With payment of physicians, hospitals and other health-care providers done by insurance, most of us have never known how much a particular office visit, lab test or procedure actually costs. Those times are changing.


In the journal Health Affairs, a study titled “Price Transparency For MRIs Increased Use Of Less Costly Providers And Triggered Provider Competition” caught our eyes. (And not just because it was in the New York Times, though it was.) This study showed that when the cost of an MRI was known, going to the less costly provider happened more often. Makes perfect sense to us!


Price transparency makes sense because:


Reason number one: Patients aren’t always aware they have a choice in where to go for medical tests including imaging. Costs can vary greatly – sometimes by a factor of ten. If you pay a percentage of the cost of the test, the less a test costs, the less you pay. Simple math.


Reason number two: The math isn’t always simple though if you can’t get the numbers. Getting accurate pricing information can be a challenge, particularly from hospitals and large health-care enterprises. Does the price include all charges? Sometimes impossible to tell until after the billing starts.


We believe getting accurate, complete pricing information on the tests you are about to undergo is your right.


Price transparency in medicine – the time has come.



(Image attribution: Kitten! by Michael Richardson via Flickr Copyright Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) note: derivative work)



Diagnostic Imaging Centers blogs on regularly about women’s health at and general radiology at Visit our sites for more helpful information!


August 22, 2014

Head Aches and Head Issues #4: Head MRI – What To Expect

MRI of headIf you are experiencing headaches and your evaluation by your doctor suggests the need for imaging, you may be sent for either an MRI or CT scan. CTs are quick and valuable in the evaluation of patients presenting with headaches after trauma. MRI is an alternative means of imaging the brain and adjacent tissues.

CT vs. MRI

The main differences in the two technologies are as follows. The decision as to which test is needed is based on your history and findings, as well as the following:



  • uses ionizing radiation (avoided in pregnancy unless there are significant findings or significant trauma) in conjunction with computers to generate images
  • takes 10 minutes or less
  • may or may not use IV iodinated contrast material
  • great in looking for blood in and around the brain, which can be traumatic or non-traumatic in origin
  • uses a short bored tube



  • uses magnets and radiofrequency waves in conjunction with computers to generate images – no radiation
  • can be used in pregnancy after the first trimester and without IV contrast material
  • may or may not use IV gadolinium contrast material
  • takes 30 minutes or more
  • uses a long bore tube (can seem confining although there are ways of treating this sensation!)
  • shows anatomy in greater detail than CT
  • some pathologies such as multiple sclerosis are best visualized on MRI
  • must hold still for longer time periods – may be difficult for younger children



What To Expect

Before an MRI of the head, no special preparation is necessary. However, metal is a big issue (seriously, the machine is one giant magnet and any metal on your body can become a hazardous missile with potential for harm to you, the technologist or the machine). So – extreme care is used to ensure that you have no metal on your body. Also, metals in things like artificial joints and pacemakers can create problems so full disclosure is needed.

The procedure takes approximately 30 minutes with only the head moving through the machine.

Holding still during the imaging is key to getting good pictures. Images are taken without contrast to begin with and then if needed (and patient is not pregnant) additional series may be run after an IV injection of a contrast material containing the heavy metal gadolinium. This should be used in caution in certain patients with kidney problems, so we always obtain a full history prior to giving this, and may check your kidney function before giving it. The injection may cause a cooling sensation.

What Happens Next

After your exam is completed, the images are studied by your radiologist for interpretation and reporting. The results are then shared with your referring doctor to integrate the new information gained from your head MRI with clinical symptoms for a specific diagnosis. After the test, we recommend drinking extra fluids to help flush the contrast from your system if it was used.

On Your Way!

Headaches can be a vexing issue, and getting you on the road to being headache-free is the goal of the medical team, including the radiologist carefully analyzing those images. As ever, we hope to help to get you on the road to your best possible health.



Diagnostic Imaging Centers blogs on regularly about women’s health at and general radiology at Visit our sites for more helpful information!


November 21, 2013

Why would a doctor order a prostate MRI for a known cancer? with Dr. Scott Sher

November 19, 2013

Can a prostate MRI show information about cancer? with Dr. Scott Sher

November 14, 2013

Talk to me about prostate MRI… with Dr. Scott Sher

April 1, 2013

All about an MRI