Patient Resources

MRI Prep: What’s With These Crazy Questions?

As part of our Patient Advocacy Program, MedRisk is committed to informing injured workers on what they can expect when they’re scheduled for workers’ comp-related tests and procedures.

This post is designed to help patients prepare for the questions that come along with an MRI (short for magnetic resonance imaging); you can learn more about general MRI preparation here. Please note that this post should not be considered medical advice; if you have specific questions, you should contact your physician or case manager.

What’s going to happen?

MedRisk asks pre-exam questions prior to scheduling to make sure we match patients with the provider that has the right equipment, capabilities and specialists on hand to handle their unique situations when they arrive.

Similar questions will most likely be asked at the clinic in the form of a paper questionnaire and again as an interview with the radiologist or other imaging center personnel. The questions are designed to ensure the utmost safety and comfort for patients, and responses may impact what kind of preparation is required prior to the MRI procedure.

“Do you have both your kidneys?”

Certain health conditions – such as severe kidney disease, liver disease or diabetes –may prevent a patient from receiving Gadolinium, a contrast material used to enhance images. If a patient has a history of kidney disease or liver transplant, a blood test may be required to determine whether the organs are functioning adequately.

“Do you have cochlear implants?

Many surgically implantable or medical devices are (or contain) metal, and can interact with the electromagnetic current of an MRI in a number of ways. Depending on the strength of the MRI magnet, devices such as cochlear implants may interfere with the exam possibly hindering diagnosis. Even hearing aids and IUDs can interfere with an MRI or visa versa. Additionally, while some types of implants have been tested as acceptable for MRIs, others have not been fully researched and may be contraindicated.

Clips used for brain aneurysms and types of metal coils placed within blood vessels may be made from what’s called ferromagnetic material, which means the electromagnetic pull of an MRI may slightly displace these critical materials. Additionally, the electromagnetic current of an MRI can disrupt or permanently disable devices such as cardiac defibrillators and pacemakers, creating a serious health risk for the patient.

“Have you ever worked with sheet metal?”

Patients who have been injured by a metal object or have metal residue in certain parts of their bodies may require an x-ray prior to an MRI to identify the location of the material. Some metals may heat up uncomfortably during an MRI or move in response to the electromagnetic current potentially posing a health risk if situated too close to an artery or other vital organ.

“Do you have any body piercing, hair weaves or extensions, tattoos or permanent makeup?”

Body piercings, wigs and hair weaves or extensions will need to be removed prior to an MRI to avoid interference, heating, or ferromagnetic “pull.” Some tattoo pigments may interfere with the quality of an MRI image, and the radiologist and physicians will need to be aware of the location of those areas in advance.

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