How Often Should I Undergo MRI Scans?
An old joke says that, if you want to forget about your troubles, wear shoes that are too tight. Certainly, there is a great connection between a healthy body and a strong mind.
In order to stay healthy, you may need medical tests to ensure that your insides are as fit as your outside. However, knowing when to schedule these tests and which ones are required can be confusing. For example, many people wonder how often you should undergo MRI scans.
What is an MRI?
MRI stands for magnetic resonance imaging. It is a procedure in which strong magnets and radio waves are used to take scans of areas on your body where you have been injured or problems are suspected.
To have an MRI scan done, your body is placed in a long, tubular device. Digital images are taken so that your doctor can see and study the affected section more clearly and make a precise diagnosis. MRI scans are typically recommended when your physician needs to see details that cannot be distinguished on traditional ultrasound or x-ray scans, such as excess bleeding or blockages.
It is used most commonly to locate cancerous growths and to view certain organs, like the pancreas and gallbladder, which are difficult to see normally because they are behind other organs and structures in the body or too small and supple to been seen by other types of scans. For questions about damaged joints or even brain abnormalities, your doctor will most likely schedule an MRI to get a definitive answer.
MRI scans are beneficial because they are better able to look at the soft tissue in your body. This includes parts such as muscle, the spinal cord, and blood vessels.
You should expect to spend at least half an hour inside the MRI machine for your test, although it can sometimes take an hour or more. Technicians and radiologists perform MRI scans and the information gathered is then sent to your doctor or a specialist, who will determine your treatment options.
Those who are claustrophobic may find the conditions required for an MRI to be unbearable and you might have to be anesthetized or find a different method altogether. Also, a standard MRI machine may not be able to accommodate someone who is especially heavy.
One alternative to the regular, enclosed MRI is a more open apparatus that essentially serves the same function as the cylindrical MRI machine. However, the open MRI technique is slightly less thorough than the all-around version.
Since the major component of an MRI scan is a very powerful magnet, people who have any kind of metal material in their body may not be eligible for the procedure. This includes things like dental work, pacemakers, and metal plates placed in the body due to previous injuries.
Is it dangerous to get too many MRI scans?
When you go in for an x-ray, it is very disconcerting to sit there, practically naked, while the technician puts on a special covering for himself and then leaves the room in order to complete the procedure. The dangers of conventional x-rays have been well documented and no one wants to take chances where radiation is concerned.
Nevertheless, x-rays have had a huge effect on modern medicine. Without them, many ailments and injuries would go undetected until they become life-threatening.
Unlike the customary x-rays, which have remained fundamentally unchanged for more than 100 years, MRI technology is relatively new. The official invention date for the MRI is 1992 and there are now more than 20,000 in use today.
Currently, MRI scans are considered safe with few, if any, side effects. An MRI test is basically painless but you might experience some discomfort or stiffness from lying in one position on a hard surface for a long time. In addition, if you suffer from iodine allergies, you could encounter a cooling sensation, since it is often used as a dye for MRI procedures.
Prior to any MRI procedure, you will have a brief consultation with the technician. It is important to discuss all concerns during that time, including previous medical work you have had done and the date of your earlier MRI scans. Nevertheless, you can rest assured that studies have shown no adverse effects with MRI scans, even for people who undergo the scans multiple times.
What is the cost of MRI scans?
The price for an MRI scan varies, depending on factors such as where it is performed and what body part is being examined. On average, the cost of MRI scans range from a few hundred to a several thousand dollars, but most major insurance plans will cover all or part of the fee. It is best to check with your insurance provider to find a facility that participates in your plan network.