- What is MRI?
- When is MRI performed?
- What preparation is needed for MRI?
- How is MRI performed?
- How are MRI results interpreted?
What is MRI?
It is a non-invasive diagnostic imaging test, which uses a combination of magnetic fields and computer technology to produce images of various regions of the body. MRI can produce detailed views of any part of the body, including vessels, muscles and fat. MRI provides higher potential for detailed diagnosis compared to classical radiography, and with regard to some specific body organs, it is superior to CT scan. In some cases, contrast medium may be intravenously (i.v.) infused.
When is MRI performed?
Your Urologist may recommend this screening test in the following cases:
- Renal diseases (tumors, congenital abnormalities etc)
- Diseases of ureters, bladder and pelvis (malignancies, injuries etc)
- To investigate prostate and testicular cancer.
- To diagnose metastatic cancer of the urinary tract or genital organs.
- To monitor patients who have undergone cancer therapy, so as to timely diagnose any potentially occurring relapse.
- To investigate symptoms of the urinary tract, such as macroscopic hematuria.
What preparation is needed for MRI?
Given that strong magnets are used in MRI, you should inform your physician about the following:
- if you have a pacemaker
- if you have a cochlear implant
- if you have undergone surgery for brain aneurysm, with placement of a metallic clip.
- if you have recently undergone hip arthroplasty, with placement of metallic joints.
- if there is any other metal in your body.
In some cases, there may be need to administer some contrast medium intravenously (i.v.). In case you are allergic or suffer from renal failure, you should inform your physician.
MRI uses no irradiation but, in case of pregnancy, you should inform your physician.
How is MRI performed?
You may be asked to have an MRI scan either as an outpatient or as a hospital inpatient. Your physician will explain to you the procedure and answer any questions you may potentially have. The procedure is as follows:
- You will be asked to remove any jewellery, belts, credit cards and anything metallic you may have on you.
- There may be need for a venocatheter to be placed in your arm.
- You will be asked to lie on your back on a special radiological table, which will transfer your body into a circular apparatus. The body will be fully surrounded by the MRI scanner. This may be problematic for individuals suffering from claustrophobia. Today, there are also open-type MRI scanners, in order to cope with this problem.
- During MRI, the scanner device produces very strong noise. That is why you will be given headphones to put on your ears.
- You should remain still for as long as the MRI scanning procedure lasts. You will be given instructions by the lab staff.
- If necessary, contrast medium will be infused through the venocatheter, which in very rare cases can cause some allergic reaction.
- The procedure is absolutely painless.
- When the procedure is completed, you may get dressed and leave the lab.
Following the MRI, you can resume to your everyday activities without any restriction at all.
How are MRI results interpreted?
Should there be any abnormal finding, your physician will inform you about this. You will be given additional instructions and informataion about therapeutic options that are appropriate for you. Should there be any doubt, your physician will recommend more specific screening (Cystoscopy, Biopsy etc).