Magnetic resonance (MR) imaging has widespread application for imaging, but plays a particularly important role in neuroradiology imaging of the head and neck, brain, spinal cord and spinal nerves, abdominal radiology imaging the solid organs of the abdominal cavity and pelvis, and musculoskeletal radiology imaging the bones, soft tissues and joints.
MR imaging also provides important information regarding certain heart conditions, specifically congenital and functional conditions, and is an important tool in determining the viability of an injured heart muscle.
At our Panorama branch, we have a unique setup of a 1.5T and 3T unit that are installed side by side. The 3T unit is an ultra-compact patient-friendly unit with a best-in-class magnet. With the ambient light options, the patient can select their favourite colour in which the room is to be lit – children in particular find this appealing.
The bore (tunnel) has a patient aperture of 70 cm that flares at both sides. This allows for more space between the patient and the tunnel and enhances patient comfort. This is especially valuable for very claustrophobic and larger patients.
Our Louis Leipoldt and Christiaan Barnard branches also have a wide bore.
Magnetic resonance (MR), also known as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a non-invasive technique utilising magnetic fields and radio waves to examine the body. As such, it provides a unique means of visualising the body’s internal structures.
MR imaging may require the administration of intravenous gadolinium contrast.
It produces anatomical images, but also provides some physiological and functional information through the use of a great variety of different imaging sequences, mainly based on changes in hydrogen (water) content in tissue.
It complements ultrasound, conventional X-rays and radioisotope studies (but no X-rays, sound waves or radioactive materials are utilised during the study).
MR imaging has no side-effects.
Before the MR imaging
Please arrive 15 minutes early to complete all the necessary paperwork.
Ladies should not wear mascara when scheduled for studies of the head and neck, as this often contains metal that causes artefacts on the images.
Should you suffer from nasal congestion, it might be beneficial to use a nasal decongestant prior to your examination.
If you think you will need sedation, please bring someone who will be able to take you home.
Be ready to discuss your overall health and to answer routine questions. This includes any symptoms you may have and why you need the procedure.
Let the radiographer know
If there is any possibility that you might be pregnant.
If you wear a pacemaker, hearing aid or have an artificial heart valve, cochlear implant, any other implants, orthopaedic prostheses, aneurysm clips, or have shrapnel in the eye or body (this is for the success of the procedure and for your safety).
If you suffer from claustrophobia.
What to expect
The examination will be performed by a trained radiographer and reported on by a radiologist.
Due to the very strong magnetic field, all necessary precautions are taken against introducing metal into the MR imaging room. You will therefore be required to wear the gown provided.
You will lie on your back and, depending on the part of the body being examined, you will be placed in the unit (that is in the shape of a short tunnel) either head or feet first.
The so-called tunnel is similar to that encountered in a conventional CT scanner and is open at both ends.
You will be in constant intercom contact with the radiographer who also has direct visualisation of you.
You will only be aware of a knocking sound during the examination (if you wish, we can supply you with ear plugs to reduce the noise that is produced by radio waves).
In some instances, the intravenous injection of a contrast agent is also necessary. When joints are imaged, it may be required for the contrast medium to be injected directly into the joint prior to the study.
SCP has a wide bore unit at its Panorama MR Centre, as well as its Louis Leipoldt and Christiaan Barnard branches. This means that the bore is wider than the standard 60 cm and is particularly helpful to accommodate very claustrophobic as well as larger patients.
You will be given a panic button should you require immediate attention from the radiographer.
For best results:
Cooperation with the radiographer is essential to the success of the procedure.
You will have to remain as still as possible throughout the examination, as any motion will seriously degrade the image quality. This will prevent the need to repeat any part of the study and will also save time and any possible discomfort.
After the MR imaging
You and/or your doctor will receive the images electronically and the report will be sent to your doctor.
You can return to your normal routine right away, unless you are advised not to.
If you needed sedation, you will not be allowed to drive for the next 24 hours.