By Norman McPhail

Welcome to MRI Safety Week! MRI Safety week was put in place to help educate both imaging centers & patients. Safety is always top priority for MRI centers but they can always do better. A few years back (2001), a patient in New York died due to a metal oxygen canister being drawn into the MRI where the patient was lying. With proper preparation, this accident should never have happened. MRI Safety Week will help make your next MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scan experience safer, easier and much more comfortable.

Research and preparation. An MRI is basically a large magnet that uses its magnetic field to produce pictures of your body’s organs and structures. The advantage that an MRI’s has over CT Scans or x-rays is that it does not emit cancer causing radiation, just a harmless magnetic field.
Before your MRI exam, do a little research so you know what to expect. The goal is to be prepared, no surprises. Learn about how an MRI works and what to expect. Knowledge will help to ease your anxiety. Ask your doctor details about why he wants the exam. What he is looking for. What MRI machine is best for your scan?

MRI Preparation. In preparing for an MRI, it is important to know that all metal objects must be removed from your body before entering into a scanning room. You must remove objects such as hearing aids, dentures, partial plates, keys, cell phone, glasses, hair pins, jewelry, piercings, watches, money clips, credit cards, coins, pens, pocket knife, just to name a few.

Drawbacks of an MRI. One of the biggest complaints about an MRI is that it is very loud. Ear plugs or music can help drown out the noise. Check with the imaging facility ahead of time to see if they have music you can listen to or if you can bring in your own music.
An additional complaint is that MRI’s are done in a confined space (23” wide tube). Some people are claustrophobic and don’t enjoy confined spaces. Even a healthy person being squeezed into a small tube and being forced to lie still for 20-30 minutes is very difficult.

Types of MRI Machines. A standard MRI exam takes place with you lying on a table inside a small tube. During the scan you must lie completely still for 20-30 minutes. Any movement can blur the results and you will have to re-do the exam.
For those who are claustrophobic, you can opt for an Open MRI. An Open MRI does not have a tube, but an open space to lie down on for the scan. A Stand-up MRI is also available (you can sit down as well) for patients that are unable to lie down. Finally, the Short Bore MRI. A Short Bore MRI works better with claustrophobic patients. The tube is 50% shorter and 5% wider than normal. Also, Short Bore machines only require part of the body to be inside the scanning tube. A high field Short Bore machine emits clearer pictures in the same amount of time.

MRI Quality. Tesla strength is important part of MRI quality. The Tesla strength is the strength of the magnet inside the MRI. Tesla strengths range from .3 all the way up to 3.0. The higher the tesla, the clearer the scan and the shorter the scan will take. But not all exams require a 3.0 tesla machine. Check with your doctor for his recommendation for type of MRI and strength that would be best for your scan.

MRI Exam with Contrast. An MRI exam may include contrast. Contrast is a dye that is injected to help enhance the scan. Contrast does cost extra. Contrast may be needed if the doctor is looking for cancer, tumor or the patient has had a previous surgery.

If you are a patient in need of an affordable diagnostic imaging scan, contact MRI Scan Group at 1.866.674.8840, and check out their website at


Know Before You Go: MRI Knowledge

by Norman McPhail

What is more important when getting an MRI: Cost or Quality? Is a more expensive scan better quality than a lower priced scan? The simple answer is no, price and quality are not related. In order to weed through the pricing scramble, you will first need to figure out the type of scan you need. Different scans will require a different MRI. Start by asking your doctor to recommend what type of MRI is best for your exam. Just like everything else, MRI Scanners come in many shapes, sizes, quality and pricing. Price deviation in the United States is mainly due to the lack of competition and patient information. Bottom line; do your homework when choosing an MRI facility. Knowledge is everything.

Differences between MRI Scanners
1. Strength of magnet (1.5 Tesla to .25 Tesla) is the most important thing to look for when getting an MRI. The lower-field magnets work for a lot of scans but sometimes a high-field magnet is needed for adequate detail. A high-field MRI increases the signal-to-noise ratio which improves the quality of the image (less grain). It also can measure blood-oxygen levels to help map neural (nervous system) activity in the brain & spinal cord. Check with your doctor for recommended Magnet Strength.

2. Open MRI . If someone is claustrophobic, has a fear of suffocation or space restrictions, an Open MRI is the way to go. However, Open MRIs use a lower field magnet and do not produce as good an image as a high-field MRI.

3. Wide Bore MRI. Traditionally MRI scanners have a tunnel measuring 22 inches wide and are limited by the size and weight of the patient. Wide bore units have a larger tunnel, measuring 6” more space in diameter, than traditional MRI scanners and can handle larger patients (up to 500lbs). An Open MRI is also an option.

4. Short Bore Magnets. A lot of modern high-field (1.5 Tesla or greater) magnets now come with a short bore tunnel (49”) which gives the patient more of an open feel, and will help with anxiety and claustrophobia.

Having a basic knowledge of MRI scanners will make you a better, more informed consumer. You do not want to have to schedule a 2nd exam because the scan was not right and didn’t produce the image needed to properly diagnose your condition. The more you know before you schedule your exam, the better. For more information, go to