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    How to prepare and what to expect from an MRI

    By knowing what to expect during an MRI, you can feel more at ease during the procedure.

    Prep for an MRI

    You’ve been told that Magnetic Resonance Imaging (also known as an MRI) is your next diagnostic step. Maybe you know people who have gotten one, or you’ve heard it can be a cold, expensive, and claustrophobic experience. What now?

    Brad Isaacson, PhD, President and Chief Operating Officer for Tellica Imaging, knows that MRIs can get a bad rap. Establishing Tellica Imaging, an Intermountain Health company, with doctors Doug Greally and Nannette Berensen was a way to change that.

    “It started as a vision to help patients who were saying I can get a diagnostic scan or my groceries, but I may not be able to do both,” said Dr. Isaacson.

    Tellica Imaging is 100% owned by Intermountain, with the same equipment and radiologists, but the subsidiary operates as a nimble and small company. This enables Tellica to bring down the MRI costs and give it back to patients. It also allows a unique focus on patient experience.

    Dr. Isaacson walked us through how to prepare for an MRI, what to expect during it, and what happens afterward.

    How to prepare for an MRI

    MRIs are a diagnostic tool to figure out potential problems. After initial diagnostic tests are exhausted, MRIs help radiologists read deeper into the issue.

    “MRIs are typically used to diagnose issues that are happening more on a soft tissue level as well as organ-related matters,” said Dr. Isaacson. "In addition to trauma and oncology, MRIs are used to diagnose and monitor conditions affecting the brain and spinal cord, such as strokes, tumors, and degenerative diseases."

    Prior to an MRI, you should tell your provider about existing medical conditions, allergies, or if you’re pregnant. This will help your caregiver decide the best care plan. When it comes to preparation, your instructions will depend on the scan’s purpose.

    “Preparation may involve fasting for about an hour before the scan if contrast is needed,” said Dr. Isaacson, “and being screened for any implanted metal devices that could interfere with the scan.”

    It’s also recommended to wear comfortable clothing, as you’ll change in and out of a hospital gown during the exam. It’s important to follow all caregivers’ instructions to ensure the best possible MRI results.

    What to expect during an MRI

    After showing up at your MRI appointment and changing into a gown, you'll be asked to lie down on a table that slides into the MRI machine.

    If your MRI is through Tellica, this is where it might be a bit different. Tellica offers wide-bore MRIs for a more spacious experience, and they provide a heated blanket.

    “The room itself for an MRI is very cold because you have to keep the magnet cool,” said Dr. Isaacson. “But with Tellica, you get a nice warm blanket that we keep in a heater.”

    The technologist will position you so the area of your body being scanned is in the center of the MRI machine. The technologist will explain the process, and if you’re in a Tellica MRI, you receive headphones to listen to your favorite music (which helps counteract loud machine sounds).

    “If you say, I like country music or I like jazz, when you come in there, we will have it queued up and ready,” said Dr. Isaacson. “You sit in the machine for about 20 minutes and listen to music while you complete your procedure.”

    MRI scans typically last between 20 to 45 minutes, depending on the type of scan and the area of the body being examined. Try to relax and stay calm during the scan to ensure the most readable results. If you feel panicked, you can always alert the technician.

    “At Tellica, you have a squeeze ball,” said Dr. Isaacson. “If you ever feel concerned or have an issue, you can press that and your technologist, who is sitting in the adjacent room performing the exam, is available to answer your questions.”

    By knowing what to expect during an MRI, you can feel more at ease during the procedure.

    What happens after an MRI

    You’ve slid out of the MRI machine and back into those comfy clothes. The hard part is over, and now it’s time to wait for your results. The images from your MRI scan will be reviewed by a board-certified radiologist, who will interpret the images and provide a report to your healthcare provider.

    Tellica results come back within one business day, and our median turnaround time is actually about an hour. “Our radiologists are incredibly skilled and can diagnose our patients quickly,” said Dr. Isaacson.

    Tellica patients receive access to a unique portal to see their results, and with the help of artificial intelligence (AI), patients are able to get customized result breakdowns in plain language.

    Once these results come in, your provider can go over them with you and discuss next steps. They may recommend follow-up appointments or additional medical care. It's important to follow your doctor's recommendations to ensure the best possible outcome.

    If you’re still feeling uneasy about your MRI, Dr. Isaacson assured that there’s always several trained caregivers on-site, and most MRIs go perfectly.

     “What I always tell people is to relax. It's an FDA approved device, and there are millions of MRIs performed every year across the globe,” said Dr. Isaacson. “Take some deep breaths. Close your eyes and listen to music, and in approximately 20 minutes, you'll be done with the procedure.” 


    How to prepare and what to expect from an MRI