Tuesday, May 28, 2013

What is an MRI?

MRI MachineWhen I went to my primary care doctor shortly after I re-injured my back in 2009, my doctor sent me off to have some x-rays taken.  Of course, I know that x-rays don't always show the real picture and often don't give doctors a real picture of the damage.  X-rays are designed to show doctors problems with the bones.  When the x-ray results came back and they revealed that I already had arthritis and disc degeneration going on in several areas of my spine.  However, they didn't show my doctor what was causing my lower back pain.  I asked my primary care doctor for recommendations for a specialist in orthopedic medicine and spine care.

Disclosure:  This post is for informational purposes only and the opinions reflected in this post are my own.  Your opinions may differ from my opinions.  I am not a doctor or health care provider.

After my initial visit, the orthopedic doctor that I saw sent me to have an MRI done on my back.  An MRI is a simple test that uses magnetic field and pulses of radio wave energy to generate a picture of your organs and body structures.  MRI's typically show information that can't be found on any other test such as X-Rays, CT Scans, and Ultrasounds.  MRI's were typically done in the hospital but now you can find independent diagnosis center who can perform an MRI, while saving you money.

I was nervous when I went in for an MRI because I wanted it to reveal my source of pain.  I was scared that the MRI wouldn't reveal any information or give the doctor any indication of my pain.  The technician came out and called me back to get started on my test.  I had to change out of my clothes and remove anything metal that I had on.  They allowed me to lock my belongings up in a locker and take the key into the room where the MRI machine was at (they did this same thing at the hospital that I had an MRI done at as well).  Then the technician had me climb up onto the table.  If you haven't every seen an MRI machine before, it looks like a hard bed that moves in and out of the machine and a curricular donut looking tube that they move you into so that they can perform the test.  

Once you are on the table, it is important that you don't move and follow the instructions of the technician.  If you are claustrophobic, you might want to mention this to the technician because there isn't much room around you inside of the tube.  The office that I went to had headphones and put on my favorite radio station while I was having the test performed.  The music helped drown out the noise from the machine, I will be honest it is loud and you can hear the machine spinning and pulsating around you.  At the hospital, I didn't have the luxury of listening to music while they perform the test but I tried to sleep while they were performing the test.  

If your doctor has ordered an MRI and you are on a budget, I would suggest that you use an independent MRI facility.  They are typically a 1/3 of the price that the hospital will charge for an MRI.  Most insurance companies will pay for independent MRI diagnostic centers, check with your insurance company to find a list of providers that can perform the MRI.

Have you had an MRI done?

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