If you are presently undergoing testing to find out if you have Multiple Sclerosis you undoubtedly will be told that you need an MRI scan. If you have never had one before, you might be wondering what it is like. Not to fear as I will tell you all about it! Although I have only been diagnosed with MS for over a year now, I have had four MRI's already. I feel like an old pro. Yet each time I have one, I learn a little bit more about the process. I better get used to it as MRI's are a definite part of my medical future.
MRI's are not just for Multiple Sclerosis patients. This handy dandy bit of technology which was developed in the late seventies, is used for all sorts of reasons including investigating sports related injuries, reproductive issues, and even heart problems. Basically an MRI is capable of giving some fairly detailed information about most parts of the body. Chances are great that in your lifetime, you will be getting an MRI for one reason or another.
How does it work? There is this big magnet see...and uh hmmm...how does it work? Good question!
MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging. It used to be called Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Imaging about fifteen years ago but people got a little freaked out about the word "nuclear." People thought that meant something dangerous and radioactive was going happen to them which isn't the case at all. Actually MRI's are a pretty darn safe procedure. It is also non-invasive with the exception of the injection of dye into you, but I will save that tidbit for later. I was correct in telling you that a large magnet is used. Basically you lie inside a tube which is really a large and powerful magnet. A radio wave antenna is used to send signals to the body and then get signals back. These signals are then converted into pictures by the computer which is connected to the scanner. This is how you get those nifty large scale photos of your brain or whatever body part you had scanned that day.
Now what happens when you have Multiple Sclerosis is that the images you get back will have some white spots to indicate brain lesions. I had looked at my scans and had great difficulty knowing what in the heck I was looking at. Gee...do ya think it is because I am not a doctor? Nonetheless it is good to have some clue about what is going on in your diagnosis and treatment and have the doc explain things to you so you are not needlessly freaking out over things you don't know how to interpret.
*SPECIAL TIP* When you do get an MRI, the scans are yours. They belong to you, so it would behoove you to go and get your scans when they are ready. That way you always have a copy to bring with you to the different docs you might see. It has been known to happen that the MRI scans mysteriously do not show up at the doctor's office on the day of your appointment. (Yep...this happened to me) So get those scans as they are yours. You and your insurance paid for them, you might as well hold onto them. At first I got the big huge scan pictures that I could barely carry. But now they have them saved to computer disc. These discs are a lot easier to manage. Before you have your scan just ask the technician for a copy.