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MRI Preparation Guide: Tips for a Smooth Experience

Ramin Ansari MD
Medically reviewed by Ramin Ansari
Ramin Ansari MD
Medically reviewed by Ramin Ansari

If you’ve ever had a Magnetic Resonance Imaging scan, you know that the experience can be a bit daunting. The clanks and hums of the machine, coupled with the confined space, can make even the most composed individuals a tad uneasy. Proper preparation can improve your experience, making it smoother and more comfortable.

It is a crucial step that often gets overlooked. In this helpful guide, we will show you the important steps and give you useful tips to make your experience less stressful. From understanding the basics to specific MRI preparation instructions, we’ve got you covered.

Our aim is to demystify the process, offering practical advice on how to mentally and physically prepare for the scan. Whether it’s your first time or you’re a seasoned pro, there’s always room for improvement in your strategy.

We will give you helpful advice and expert tips. Let’s turn what may seem like a daunting experience into a seamless and comfortable journey.

 

Preparing for an MRI Scan: General Tips

Entering the realm of an MRI scan can be a unique experience, and the key to a successful and stress-free session. Whether it’s your first time or you’re experienced, these tips can make this process better. By adhering to these general tips you pave the way for a more relaxed and efficient experience. 

Understanding MRI Preparation

First, read the instructions given by your healthcare provider. The instructions might tell you what to eat, what to wear, and how to get ready for this.

Mindful Mental Part

It’s not just about the physical aspects. Understand that an MRI is a non-invasive procedure, and there’s no need to be anxious. Practice relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, to help calm any nerves.

Clothing Matters

Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing without any metal elements. Some facilities might provide you with a gown, so it’s advisable to check beforehand. Avoid wearing jewelry, watches, or clothing with metal zippers or snaps to prevent interference with the MRI machine.

Documentation and Information

Bring along any relevant medical documents, especially if you’re preparing for an MRI of the brain or a specific body part. This information helps the radiologist understand your medical history and adjust the MRI.

Communication is Key

Inform the technologist of any metal implants, devices, or health conditions you have. To keep you safe during the procedure, the technologist needs clear communication to make adjustments.

Medical professional preparing patient for MRI scan

 

Preparing for an MRI of the Brain

Before getting a scan of the brain, there are certain things to remember for clear pictures and a pleasant experience. Understanding how to prepare for a brain MRI is important for both diagnosis and monitoring. It can make the process go more smoothly.

Follow Specialized Instructions

Brain MRI often requires specific steps beyond the general guidelines. Your doctor will probably give you specific instructions for preparing for an MRI of the brain. These instructions might include not eating before the test, especially if they plan to use contrast. Adhering to these instructions is crucial for the accuracy of the imaging.

Hair and Accessories

Unlike other types of scans, a brain MRI necessitates that your head remains still throughout the procedure. Thus, it’s advisable to avoid hairstyles that involve pins or clips. Additionally, remove any hair accessories, such as headbands or hair ties, before the scan.

Communication About Implants or Devices

If you have any implants or devices in your head or neck area, inform the technologist beforehand. Some devices may be incompatible with the MRI machine or require special considerations for the imaging process.

Comfort Measures MRI preparation 

Before the scan, try relaxation techniques to reduce anxiety in the small machine. The more relaxed you are, the easier it is to stay still during the imaging process.

Understanding the Contrast Procedure

If your brain scan  involves the use of contrast dye, you might experience a warm sensation during the injection. This is normal, but it’s essential to communicate any unusual sensations to the technologist promptly.

Arrive Early and Be Well-Informed

To be well-prepared, arrive early and understand the process. Ask any questions you may have before the procedure begins to ensure you’re comfortable and informed.

Remember, prepping for a brain scan is about both physical and mental readiness. By paying attention to these details, you help make the imaging more accurate and the experience more positive and relaxed. Next, we’ll talk about preparing for an MRI with contrast in more detail. Stay tuned for valuable insights into this essential aspect of the journey.

 

Preparation for MRI with Contrast

When preparing for an MRI with contrast, there are specific steps and considerations to ensure a seamless and effective imaging process. Gadolinium-based contrast agents make it easier to see structures and abnormalities in the body. This helps doctors diagnose accurately. Here’s a guide to help you navigate this aspect.

Strictly Follow MRI Preparation Instructions

If your scan involves contrast, it’s imperative to strictly adhere to the provided  instructions. This often includes fasting for a specified period before the scan. Following these guidelines ensures the contrast agent’s optimal performance during the imaging procedure.

Allergies and Medical History

Before the procedure, tell your healthcare team about any allergies you have, especially to contrast agents. Additionally, provide a comprehensive medical history to ensure the safety and success of the procedure with contrast.

Fasting Before the Scan 

In many cases, you’ll be required to fast for a few hours before an MRI with contrast. To ensure clear images, your digestive system should be transparent and not interfere with the imaging. Follow the fasting instructions provided by your healthcare provider.

Hydration Matters

Staying well-hydrated is essential when preparing for an MRI with contrast. Drinking enough water helps your body get rid of the dye faster, lowering the chance of problems. Drink plenty of water in the hours leading up to the scan, unless instructed otherwise.

Intravenous (IV) Line Placement

A contrast-enhanced procedure involves the injection of the contrast agent through an IV line. Be prepared for the insertion of the IV needle, and inform the technologist of any concerns or discomfort you may have. This is a very important part of preparing for an MRI scan.

Understanding Potential Side Effects

Contrast agents are usually safe, but some people may have mild side effects. These can include a metallic taste, warmth, or a flushing feeling when getting the injection. These sensations are usually temporary and subside quickly.

Doctor assisting patient into an MRI machine

 

MRI preparation instructions: Special Considerations

When preparing for an MRI scan, it is important to address specific concerns. This is especially true for people with implants, tattoos, or certain medical conditions. If you know how to handle special situations, MRI appointments will be smoother and more personalized.

Implants and Devices 

For individuals with implants, such as pacemakers, artificial joints, or metal plates, it’s crucial to inform the healthcare team about it. Certain implants may pose risks or require adjustments during the imaging process. The technologist can provide guidance on the compatibility of your implants with the MRI machine.

Tattoos and Permanent Makeup

While tattoos themselves are generally safe during scan, certain inks may contain metal elements that could heat up during the scan. Let the technologist know if you have any tattoos, especially ones with metal, for a safe and comfortable experience. The same applies to permanent makeup containing metallic pigments.

Claustrophobia and Anxiety 

Addressing concerns related to claustrophobia or anxiety is crucial for a successful session. Before MRI preparation, discuss these concerns with your healthcare provider. Some facilities offer open MRI machines or provide options for sedation to help alleviate anxiety during the scan.

Metal Fragments or Foreign Bodies

Individuals working in certain professions may have metal fragments embedded in their bodies. Inform the technologist about any potential metal objects to avoid complications during the procedure. Safety is paramount, and your cooperation ensures a secure imaging process.

Pregnancy Considerations

If you’re pregnant or suspect you might be, it’s vital to communicate this to your healthcare team during the preparation for an MRI scan. It is usually safe when pregnant, but contrast agents may need extra thought. The healthcare team will assess the risk and benefit.

 

Conclusion

Navigating the world of MRI in medical diagnostics can be daunting yet essential. After reading our guide on getting ready for an MRI, it’s clear that being informed and prepared is important for a smooth experience. The guide includes tips for brain scan or procedure with contrast.

Following the provided instructions ensures that you enter the MRI suite equipped with the information and confidence needed for a successful session. To have a better experience, personalized care is important. To understand brain scan, you should also consider special conditions like implants or tattoos.

Remember, effective MRI preparation is not just a routine but a personalized strategy tailored to your unique needs. To have a stress-free experience, stay informed, talk openly with your healthcare team, and follow the tips. This guide will help you prepare for procedures with the latest technology and healthcare practices.

 

FAQ

What should I avoid doing before an MRI scan?

Before an MRI scan, avoid wearing metal-containing clothing or accessories. Follow fasting instructions, especially if contrast is involved. Remove jewelry and inform the staff about any implants or metal fragments in your body.

 

Can I eat before an MRI scan?

It depends on your MRI type. Follow your healthcare provider’s instructions—fasting may be necessary, particularly if contrast is used.

 

What if I feel anxious during the MRI?

If you feel anxious during the MRI, inform the staff beforehand. They can offer options like open MRI machines or sedation to help you feel more comfortable and relaxed during the procedure. Communication is key to ensuring a positive experience

 

Are there any risks associated with MRI with contrast?

MRI with contrast is generally safe. While allergic reactions are rare, inform your healthcare provider about any allergies or kidney issues. The benefits of enhanced imaging usually outweigh the minimal risks.

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Edward Medina
Edward Medina
15:34 30 Jun 22
Just such an amazing staff that makes you feel like part of their family. I’ve been going there for over 5 years now... and each visit I get the very best care and treatments that I have ever received in the 20+ years that I’ve been dealing with severe debilitating migraines. Since i started seeing them the number of my migraines has dropped from 15-20 a month to 2-3 every 3 month. I highly recommend them …they will change your life!read more
Daneisha Johnson
Daneisha Johnson
22:20 19 May 22
Dr. Askari was very kind and explained everything so I could understand. The other staff were nice as well. I would... have gave 5 stars but I was a little taken aback when I checked in and had to pay 600.00 upfront. I think that should have been discussed in a appointment confirmation call or email just so I could have been prepared.read more
Jean Cooper
Jean Cooper
16:54 29 Apr 22
I love the office staff they are friendly and very helpful. Dr. JODIE is very caring and understanding to your needs... and wants to help you. I will go back. would recommend Dr. Dr. Jodie to other Patients in a heart beat. The team works well together.read more
Linda M
Linda M
19:40 02 Apr 22
I was obviously stressed, needing to see a neurologist. The staff was so patient and Dr. Ansari was so kind. At one... point he told me to relax, we have time, when I was relaying my history of my condition. That helped ease my stress. I have seen 3 other neurologists and he was the only one who performed any assessment tests on my cognitive and physical skills. At one point I couldn't complete two assessments and got upset and cried. I was told, it's OK. That's why you're here. I was truly impressed, and super pleased with the whole experience!read more
Leslie Durham
Leslie Durham
15:05 01 Apr 22
I've been coming here for about 5 years. The staff are ALWAYS friendly and knowledgeable. The Doctors are the absolute... best!! Jodie Moore is always in such a great mood which is a plus when you are already stressed. Highly recommendedread more
Monica Del Bosque
Monica Del Bosque
14:13 25 Mar 22
Since my first post my thoughts have changed here. It's unfortunate. My doctor and PA were great, but the office staff... is horrible. They never call you back when they say they will, they misinform you, they cause you too much stress wondering what's going on, they don't keep you posted. They never answer the phone. At this point I've left four messages in the last week, and I have sent three messages. Twice from their portal and one direct email. No response. My appointment is on Monday morning at 8:30am, no confirmation on my insurance and what's going on. What the heck is going on, this is ridiculous!I've given up... the stress her office staff has put me through is just not worth it. You can do so much better, please clean house, either change out your office staff, or find a way for them to be more efficient please. You have to do something. This is not how you want to run your practice. It leaves a very bad impression on your business.read more
Ron Buckholz
Ron Buckholz
23:32 23 Mar 22
I was actually pleasantly surprised with this visit! It took me a long time to get the appointment scheduled because no... one answers your phones EVER! After a month, I finally got in, and your staff was warm, friendly, and I was totally impressed! I feel like you will take care of my needs!read more
Steve Nabavi
Steve Nabavi
16:28 16 Mar 22
It was a nice visit. Happy staff doing all they can do to comfort the patients in a very calming environment. You ask... me they are earned a big gold star on the fridge. My only complaint they didn't give me any cookies.read more
Katie Lewis
Katie Lewis
16:10 10 Feb 22
Had very positive appointments with Jodie and Dr. Sheth for my migraine care. Jodie was so fast with the injections and... has so much valuable info. I started to feel light headed during checkout and the staff was SO helpful—giving me a chair, water, and taking me into a private room until I felt better. Highly recommend this practice for migraine patients, they know what they’re doing!!read more
Joshua Martinez
Joshua Martinez
16:02 10 Dec 21
I was scheduled to be checked and just want to say that the staff was fantastic. They were kind and helpful. I was... asked many questions related to what was going on and not once did I feel as though I was being brushed off. The front desk staff was especially great in assisting me. I'm scheduled to go back for a mri and am glad that I'll be going there.read more
Isabel Ivy
Isabel Ivy
21:42 03 Nov 21
I had such a good experience with Lone Star Neurology, Brent my MRI Tech was so awesome and made sure I was very... comfortable during the appointment. He gave me ear plugs, a pillow, leg support and blanket, easiest MRI ever lol 🤣 My 72 hour EEG nurse Amanda was also so awesome. She made sure I was take care of over the 3 days and took her time with the electrodes to make sure it was comfortable for me! Paige was also a huge help in answering all my questions when it came to my test results, and letting me know her honest opinions about how I should go forth with my treatment.read more
Leslie Luce
Leslie Luce
17:37 20 Oct 21
The professionalism and want to help attitude of this office was present from the moment I contacted them. The follow... up and follow through as well as their willingness to find a way to schedule my dad was above and beyond. We visited two offices in the same day with the same experience. I am appreciative of this—we spend a lot of time with doctors and this was top notch start to finish.read more
robert Parker
robert Parker
16:38 16 Apr 21
I love going to this office. The staff is friendly and helpful. The doctor is great. I am getting the best... neurological tests and treatment I have ever had. The only reason I did not give them a 5 star rating is because it is impossible to reach a live person at the office to reschedule appointments. Every time I have tried to get through to the office it says all people are busy and I am sent to a voicemail. If they could get their phone answering fixed, I would give them a strong 5 stars.read more
MaryAnn Hornbaker
MaryAnn Hornbaker
00:26 25 Feb 21
Dr. Harney is an excellent Dr. I found him friendly , personable and thorough. I evidently am an unusual case. ... Therefore he spent a Hugh amount of time educating me. He even gave me literature to further explain my condition and how to follow up. This is something you rarely get from your doctors. So I am more than please with my doctor and his staff.read more
Roger Arguello
Roger Arguello
03:05 29 Jan 21
Always courteous, professional. The staff is very friendly and always work with you to find the best appointment time.... The care team has been great. Always taking the time to listen to your concerns and to find the best treatment.read more
Margaret Rowland
Margaret Rowland
01:12 27 Jan 21
I have been a patient at Lone Star Neurology for several years. Now both my adult daughters also are patients there. I... love Jodie. She is always so prompt whether it is a teleamed call are a visit in the office. She takes the time to explain everything to me and answers all my questions. I am so blessed to have Jodie as my doctor.read more
Susan Miller
Susan Miller
03:01 13 Jan 21
My husband had an accident 5 years ago and Lone Star Neurology has been such a blessing to us with my husbands care.... Jodie Moore is his provider and she is amazing! Jodie is very knowledgeable, caring, and thorough. She takes her time with you, making sure your needs are met and she is happy to answer any questions you may have. Lone Star Neurology’s patients are very lucky to have Jodie providing their care. Thank you Lone Star Neurology and especially Jodie for everything you have done for us. Jodie, you are the best!read more
Windalyn C
Windalyn C
01:32 09 Jan 21
Jodie is wonderful. She is very caring and knowledgeable. I have been to over a dozen neurologists, and none were able... to help me as much as they have here. Thanks!read more
Katie Kordel
Katie Kordel
00:40 09 Jan 21
Jodi Moore, nurse practitioner, is amazing. I have suffered from frequent, debilitating headaches for almost 20 years.... She has provided the best proactive and responsive care I have ever received. My quality of life has been greatly improved by her caring approach and tenacity in finding solutions.read more
Ellie Natsis
Ellie Natsis
15:41 07 Jan 21
I have had the best experience at this neurologist's office! For over a year I have been receiving iv treatments here... each month and my nurse, Bobbie is beyond wonderful!! She's so attentive, knowledgeable, caring, and detail oriented. She makes an otherwise uncomfortable experience much more pleasant and definitely puts me at ease! She also helps me with my insurance,ordering this specialty medication and dealing with the ordering process which is no easy feat.Needless to say, she goes above a beyond in every way and I'm so grateful to this office and to Bobbie for all they do for me!read more
Matt Morris
Matt Morris
15:39 07 Jan 21
Let me start by saying that I have been coming here for years. Due to my autoimmune disease, I am in this office... once every three weeks for multiple hours at a time. The office is very clean and the staff very friendly. My only complaint would be there communication via phone. They aren't the best at responding if you leave a voicemail and expect a call back. I understand that this is prob just due to the sheer number of alls they receive daily. What I can say I like the best about the office are the people. Bobby who handles my infusions is great. I never have any issues with her setting up my infusions. She is very quick to reply to messages sent via text and if she were to leave then my whole opinion of the office may change. I also enjoy people like Matt, Lauren, and Jodi. I appreciate all that they do for me and without this team I'm not sure I would be as happy as I am to visit the office as frequently as I have to. Please ensure that these folks are recognized as they are what makes my visit to this office so tolerable :).read more
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