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MRI Scan this week, can anyone who has had one share their experiences please?

(35 Posts)
Aimsmum Mon 26-Sep-11 12:30:59

Just a few questions really, the letter says that I will be in the scanner for between 45-60 mins, I am not claustrophobic so think I will be ok, but just really wanted to know from anyone who has had one what it is really like.

It also says that I have to wear something that contains no metal at all, so no zips, clips, buttons or anything, and if not I will be given a gown, I am thinking that I don't really have anything suitable, so was wondering what you wore, and if it was just a gown.

Also did you have to get a dye injection? It says I may or may not need to get this, is it just a basic injection if I do?

and finally it says I can bring an MP3 player if I want, was just wondering how this works if you are in a big magnetic tunnel, as I have the fear of using my iphone and it getting ruined blush

Anything else that you think might be useful, I would really appreciate you sharing.

Thanks smile

LittleGreenFr0g Mon 26-Sep-11 13:04:08

Hiya, I had a scan and was only in for about 20 mins, and I am claustrophobic so was dreading it, but actually it wasn't that bad. It is very noisy though. Lots of clunking. I doubt you would be able to take in an MP3 player but you can take CD's and they will put headphones on you to listen to the music. They put them on anyway do protect your ears from the noise.

I think I wore leggings and a top but obviously bra's have metal in them so I just wore a gown on top with my leggings on the bottom.

I did have a dye injection. They set it up before you go in the scanner and then they put the dye in about 5 mins from the end. So yes its a needle in your arm. They tell you when they are injecting the dye and it feels cold but thats it. I was face down so couldn't see anything anyway.

I think music would be a good idea if you are going to be in for quite a while as you have to stay really still which I find difficult. I'm a bit of a fidget!

Hope that helps smile

LittleGreenFr0g Mon 26-Sep-11 13:06:37

oops sorry, I just re-read and you have been told you can take in your MP3 player. I guess it would be ok then. Maybe take some cd's as well and see if they have that option to save your Iphone smile

GreenMonkies Mon 26-Sep-11 13:21:24

I work in radiology, we get every one changed into a hospital gown, unless they have serious mobility issues and are dressed with no metal. This is because most metal bits have ferrous metals in them, which can heat up in the scanner (which resulted in burns in the early days of MRI scans!) so we make sure that all bras etc are removed.

What you are having scanned will dictate how long you are in the scanner, a brain takes about 15 minutes, whole spine is closer to an hour, limbs or torso bits are 15-30 minutes.

Dye is injected either automatically by an injector pump via a cannula in your arm or hand, or by hand with a smaller butterfly needle, again, this depends on what type of scan you are having.

If they say you can take your MP3 is assume they have a dock they can link the headphones too, we only have radio or cd that we can use, but they won't take your ipod into the scanner room as the magnet would wipe it!

I'm a little bit claustrophobic, but I've had two scans, my lumbar spine and my head, both times I found being "fed" into the tunnel the unnerving bit, once positioned I'm ok, so if you find you are a bit freaked out as the bed is sliding into the tunnel just hang in there and wait til it stops and see how you feel then. Most head coils have a periscope mirror on them so you can see out of the scanner, but most people just close their eyes and snooze (yes, people do fall asleep even though it's very noisy!) until they are done. If you are nervous the staff will be understanding and supportive, especially if you are coming to the hospital I work in, as we are all lovely....... grin

CMOTdibbler Mon 26-Sep-11 14:20:22

The things that suprise people is that its very very noisy and cold (these are both just the way the machine works).
Best imo, to just close your eyes and snooze as you do need to be v v v still.

Your iphone would be docked and the music fed down big headphones

Leggings/trackie bottoms and thick socks are a good move

pramsgalore Mon 26-Sep-11 14:33:19

i hate small spaces [i mean really hate small places] and i closed my eyes and counted and sung in my head, its very loud, but they put headphones on you that play music and they can also talk to you through these. i wore my own clothes with no zips but had to take off my bra, i had mobilty problems at the time and fell over just taking my bra off, so might be why i stayed in my own clothes, skirt [elastic waist] and plain top, you will be fine, just shut yours eyes and think of nice things or things you need to get done smile

lizzieloubee1 Mon 26-Sep-11 17:04:31

I've had three! I've always worn my own clothes, tracksuit bottoms, a plain t-shirt and a hoody. No bra, taken off in the loo just before appointment time. I did get quite chilly though, so added thick socks to my outfit.

I've had one with dye, and honestly having the local anesthetic put in was worse. And I could see what was going on!

It sounds like a chopping noise that is getting closer. It's just the camera, but no-one warned me and it did freak me out.

I decided that I preferred lying in a more uncomfortable position (like Superman, on my front with arm outstretched) than a more comfy one (on my back, hands by side) because the latter meant I could see the scanner and the enclosed space more. Lying on my front I couldn't, which helped.

I think I counted lots, and listened to music.

Iamseeingstars Mon 26-Sep-11 19:14:45

mY main memories of an MRI was the noise and how long it was. I was really shocked it took an hour. But the noises - I still hear them in my head now, they made so many different sounds.

I dont know about music players but you could ring the hospital and ask them

jenniec79 Mon 26-Sep-11 19:19:22

They'll pipe the music to you from the control room, don't worry about your iphone.

The scanner is noisy and close, but the stiller you can keep the better the information they'll be able to get. Depending which bit is being scanned, it may be a lot quicker than 45mins, too!

What about wearing a "Secret Support"type pj top and pull on trousers. A hospital gown wouldn't be too bad for that short a time, and they'll be used to it, but you will have to be bra-less of course! It's usually quite warm in the scan room, so dont overdo the layers grin

headfairy Mon 26-Sep-11 19:20:31

I've had a couple, one on my knee so I went in feet first and actually only as far as my neck so my head wasn't sticking out. Wasn't too bad at all. I had my spine done too and that was probably nearer 50 mins. I was in a gown (I was a bit nervous about the metalwork in my leg, they told me to let them know if I could feel burning in my knee shock but it wasn't a problem in the end) It was bloody freezing and noisy as hell. I did have some radio on headphones but couldn't hear a thing with all the banging. I also did some rather loud singing in there - apart from the bits where they asked me to be as still as possible!

I was nervous about going in head first for my spinal scan. I closed my eyes before I even went in, and resisted temptation to open my eyes even once. I did have a little feel around but that made me feel a bit queasy so I just lay there day dreaming (decorating my dream mansion if you're interested grin) and singing.

It's not the worst thing I've had done by far... good luck!

I had one with dye. I don't really remember too much about it as it was 3 days after I gave birth and I was knackered after loads of other problems. I do remember the loud noises and I do remember being scared but the staff were lovely and very reassuring.

My only advice would be to keep still. I was just drifting off into a peaceful place when I heard "DON'T MOVE. NOT YET". Once I'd worked out I was alive and it wasn't God I realised I'd shifted to get more comfy. This was naughty apparently grin

Good luck.

eatyourveg Mon 26-Sep-11 19:25:41

GreenMonkies do you always need dye for brains? I'm waiting for my appt.

Had one 10 yrs ago and don't remember anything about metal and dyes - just the claustrophobic feeling and was scared stiff of moving. MP3 sounds a great idea - will borrow an ipod from the dc

SaintlyCousinHelen Mon 26-Sep-11 19:35:16

I've had several done, and (this might sound bizarre) I actually find them quite relaxing. Because you have to lie completely still, I generally find myself drifting off to sleep.

On the first one, which was just my head, I had to strip off my top half (and wear a gown) but was allowed to keep my jeans on. On the others, I wore a gown (with knickers but no bra). Remember to take your watch off - on one of them I completely forgot and would have gone into the scanner with it on had a sharp eyed member of staff not noticed as the table was actually moving me into the machine blush

The injection I found largely painless: certainly much less uncomfortable than having blood taken.

Although you may be in the scanner for 45-60mins, it won't be one continuous scan which lasts that long. It is lots and lots of shorter scans, and the staff tell you what is happening, eg. "next scan will last 3mins, starting now" etc. So it doesn't feel as if you are alone.

I think it is probably the least invasive procedure which I have ever had, because you just lie there and the machine does its stuff. No being pushed around, or looked at or anything like that.

Good luck.

Aimsmum Mon 26-Sep-11 20:20:49

Thanks everyone for you posts, I really appreciate it and it has been really reassuring, I have been out all day but read some of them on my phone earlier.

I am getting my wrist/arm done, so hopefully then it wont take as long as an hour, but I presume that I would have to go right into the scanner to get it done?

I have also looked at all my clothes and I genuinely don't think I have any bottoms that don't have a metal fastener or metal something, even my joggies have metal around the bits where the ties come out, so I think I might have to wear a gown, unless I can buy something quickly tomorrow.

I think the dye injection is the part I am most worried about, basically because i didn't even know anything about it until I received the letter today, but not sure if that is because it is just a standard info leaflet and the dye part may not be relevant to me, or just that no one thought to mention it.

Also pleased to know about the music and that the time may not be so long or continuous. I will add some more songs to my phone as I don't have many and maybe make up a scanner playlist! grin

I am a total fidget so i honestly think I will find it hard to stay still...what if I get an itch!! grin I will just try to think about something and not move.

Thansk again everyone, really do appreciate it.

Jayfer Mon 26-Sep-11 20:33:26

I'm having one on Friday on my spine and actually really looking forward to it as once they have the results the docs can do something about the pain. Yay!

Had a fair few over the years, do recommend taking in CD as my sister once had one and had to put up with simply red played for ages.

I always get a twitch when they tell me to stay still too.

Canella Mon 26-Sep-11 20:40:39

Ds1 had one last year when he was 5. Even he managed to fall asleep. The appointment was an hour but he was only in the scanner for about 20 mins.

Good luck.

SaintlyCousinHelen Mon 26-Sep-11 20:57:46

don't buy any clothes especially for it - it really isn't worth it! If you wear a gown, you change into it immediately before the scan; have the scan (lying in the scanner), then change out of it back into your own clothes. So it is quite harmless. Especially as you can keep your knickers on so no embarrassing draft up the back.

Anyway, they might not be fussed about the metal on the joggers: my jeans had the usual rivets, zip etc and they weren't worried about that.

IwishIwasmoreorganised Mon 26-Sep-11 21:08:55

The thing that amazed me when I've had MRI scans (I've had 2 - brain and pelvis) was how loud it was (with earplugs in and sandbags beside my ears) and the variety of noises.

There was whirring and clonking. Lots that sounded like a pneumatic drill and several like a honking type of alarm that I was convinced meant that it had broken down with me stuck inside of it!

I've been in head first both times. It really is a narrow tunnel, just a few inches away from your face but with gentle lights down the middle. I hadn't realised until the end of my 1st scan that it really was a tunnel with an opening either end, not a dead end as I'd imagined.

Good luck, deep breaths and think positive.

DigOfTheStump Mon 26-Sep-11 21:16:02

DS aged 18 had one this week .... went himself, says it was no problem.

He got a shunt in his arm, which they struggled a wee bit to find a vein for, but says other than that it was fine, not too claustrophobic, but a bit noisy.

He says the dye going into your arm is very, very cold though.

wicketkeeper Mon 26-Sep-11 21:55:34

I had one on my pelvis. Obviously needed to take my jeans off, but bra was left in place. I actually found I got too hot - kept T-shirt on under the gown, really wished I hadn't.

They talked to me through the headphones from time to time to tell me what was happening and to check that I was OK. They give you a panic button which you can use if you really can't stand it any longer.

I found that after lying so still and flat for so long I was quite wobbly when it was all over. The nurse came to 'release' me, then left me to get dressed, and I really struggled to get myself vertical again (I'm pretty fit and don't have any mobility problems at all). I didn't need a dye injection, although my letter also said that this might be part of the deal.

All the best.

BurningBridges Tue 27-Sep-11 00:11:05

I'm having one on Friday too - this will be my second. Let's compare notes afterwards!

NhameCage Tue 27-Sep-11 01:08:57

I had my brain done twice. The second was really long, about an hour. I didn't have the dye. Definitely take an mp3 player, I didn't and listened to radio 4 which turned out to be an entire programme about health. Have you got any leggings? A jersey dress/big t-shirt with tights? I wore one of those 'secret support vests (have one without any metal).

IwishIwasmoreorganised Tue 27-Sep-11 10:34:57

I forgot about the buzzer thing. That was really comforting to know that they'd stop the scan and bring me out straight away if I needed.

The other thing I had to do was lie on my back. I do have back problems so I had a nice big pillow under my knees which kept me comfortable throughout the scans.

Aimsmum Tue 27-Sep-11 11:16:35

Thanks again everyone!

I think I will just wear the gown or wait and see what I am told when i arrive tomorrow, no point in panicking about clothes really, I mean I have had 2 operations in the past 2 years when i have spent full days in gowns with paper pants so not even sure why i am turning it into an issue!! grin

I will get some good songs on a play list tonight, enough to last for over an hour but hopefully it wont last that long.

Someone in my office just told me that the dye can make you sick and dizzy, did anyone else experience this? Just thinking about getting home if this is the case? Presuming it may be because hers was her brain, whereas mine is my arm it might be different??

Good to know about the panic button, nice to know it is there even tho the likelyhood of even using it is very slim!

This time tomorrow it will pretty much all be over with, just need to keep that in mind.

Thansk again everyone!

Cannotthinkofaname Tue 27-Sep-11 11:56:10

I have had 5 MRI scans on my Brain.

I have had 2 with the dye, for the dye I had a cannula in my hand and the Radiologist just pulled me out then put the dye in then pushed me back in for another 15mins or so. I just felt a little bit cold when they first put the dye through the cannula.

Every time I have had a MRI I have fell asleep and got a shock when I get pulled back out.

The first time I had a MRI I was able to see the radiologist behind me using the mirror thing in the scanner, But every other time I have not had that so I could not see anyone (reason I fell asleep). The machine is noisy but bearable as they put the headphones on.

For 4 scans I have just worn my own clothes but no bra. The last time I was put into a gown even though I had the same type of clothes on each time.

Good Luck.

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