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MRI and MRA

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a diagnostic test that provides early detection of developing diseases and abnormalities. Doctors employ this non-invasive technique to see inside the human body in great detail without the use of X-rays. MRI uses a safe but powerful magnet, radio waves and a computer system. The result is crystal-clear pictures of your internal organs, joints, brain or spine.

Milford Regional has recently invested in two new advanced MRI machines.  This new technology has upgraded software which produces exceptional image quality, allowing for better detection of many different types of conditions.    

One of the first in this region, the Siemens 3T MRI scanner produces images with minute details of the musculoskeletal system, neurological system, cartilage, arteries, veins and breasts.

Specific examples of what can be detected with this powerful MRI:

  • A scan of the knee can provide an image of the cartilage and meniscus that wasn't visible before
  • Images of the spinal cord are dramatically clearer
  • Images of the brain are improved, allowing for detection of such things as plaque and lesions, key to diagnosing certain conditions such as multiple sclerosis
  • The 3-dimensional imaging has improved evaluation and detection of old strokes and previous brain trauma that a less powerful magnet could not detect
  • Certain cancers can be seen earlier with this type of advanced imaging

The new 1.5T MRI also produces outstanding quality images, scans take less time to complete and it is quieter in most cases.  Both machines have a larger opening and a shorter bore which means this equipment is more spacious and comfortable for patients who may be claustrophobic and can accommodate a diverse array of patients including children, obese patients (up to 550 lbs.) and the elderly.

Magnetic Resonance Angiography (MRA) is a type of MRI. It provides detailed images of blood vessels without the use of catheters or surgery. With an MRA, both the blood flow and the condition of the blood vessel walls can be seen. Like MRI, MRA is safe and painless. A contrast agent called gadolinium is often used during MRA to make blood vessels more clearly visible in the pictures.

Brand new Siemens equipment used for MRA tests was installed at Milford Regional in March 2016.  This top-of-the-line machine produces superior quality images, reduces the number of x-rays needed and the radiation dose required has been reduced.

Consult Your Physician

  • Have implanted devices (e.g., pacemaker, aneurysm clips, stents, prosthetic heart valve)
  • Have any serious health problems
  • Have had any type of surgery within the last eight weeks
  • Have ever had surgery on your brain, ears, eyes or heart
  • Have had metal in your eyes or you work with metals
  • Have a bone or joint replacement or any prosthesis
  • Are or may be pregnant
  • Are breastfeeding
  • Are diabetic
  • Weigh more than 350 pounds
  • Have ever experienced claustrophobia – if necessary, medication can be prescribed before your appointment. Please note that medication is not available on-site. Also, if you receive medication, bring someone with you who can drive you home, because you will not be able to drive yourself.

Exam Preparation

  • You may have certain restrictions on what you can eat and drink beforehand depending on what part of the body is being scanned. Your physician should provide this information to you before your scan. If you are having an abdomen scan, do not eat anything for four hours prior to the scan.
  • Take your regular medications prior to the scan.
  • Arrive 15 minutes early to complete a pre-screening questionnaire and use the restroom before your scan
  • If you have claustrophobia, discuss this with your MRI technologist. He or she can provide music and prism glasses to reduce your anxiety.
  • Bring all insurance information, as well as any previous diagnostic films of the scan area (such as X-ray, ultrasound, CT or MRI scans.)
  • Leave valuables at home or in one of the lockers in our exam area. No metallic objects can be worn during your scan (e.g., watches, jewelry, keys, cell phones, hair pins, hearing aids, eyeglasses, coins, etc.). Also, do not take any credit or bank cards in with you. The scanner will erase the information recorded on the magnetic strip.
  • You may be asked to wear a hospital gown during the exam. Your own loose clothing will work, as long as there are no metal snaps or zippers.
  • Remove any eye makeup for exams pertaining to the head and neck areas.

The Exam

An MRI technologist, under the supervision of a radiologist (a doctor who assists in your medical diagnosis by interpreting the scans), will perform your scan.

Upon arriving for your appointment, you'll be greeted by a receptionist and asked a series of questions. Once in the scan room, the technologist will ask you to lie down on a cushioned table, which will automatically move into the magnet after you have been comfortably positioned. The magnet is open on both ends. Your technologist will stay in contact with you throughout the exam via an intercom system.

Patient receiving an MRI scan.When the MRI scan begins, you will hear a muffled thumping sound that will last for several minutes. (This is when the scanner takes its pictures.) You may also feel a slight vibration, which is normal. Just relax - you can bring your favorite CD, iPods or MP3 players so you can listen to your own music through our MRI-safe headphones during the exam. If you don't want to bring a CD, you can select one of our FM radio stations to listen to during your scan. Just remember, you must lie as still as possible since any movement can distort the images.

Other than sound and a slight vibration, you should experience no other sensation during scanning. When scanning is complete, the technologist will return to help you off the table. The average MRI scan takes 20 to 60 minutes, depending on the type of scan your doctor ordered.

For certain studies, the injection of a contrast agent called gadolinium may be necessary to help better visualize the area being examined. Unlike contrast agents used in other radiology studies, gadolinium does not contain iodine and therefore rarely causes allergic reactions or side effects.

After the Exam

Once your scan is complete, you may resume normal activities and diet. Your referring physician will receive the results within 24 hours and will then contact you to discuss the findings.

MRI and MRA Scheduling

Your physician's office will make your appointment for you at either the Medical Center or the Cancer Center depending on scheduling.

Find Care

Pre-Registration

Patients should call to pre-register up to two weeks in advance for any scheduled surgical day and out-patient appointment including most diagnostic tests, lab work and pre-surgical testing. This eliminates the need to wait for an admissions representative upon arrival. Patients can go directly to their point of service. Admissions representatives are available to take calls from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday and Tuesday, and 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., Wednesday through Friday. 

Please call 508-422-2222.

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