MRI’s: What to Expect

I had my follow up MRI last Friday! I say it excitedly because I am glad it’s O V E R.

The very first time my PCP told me I needed and MRI I immediately panicked thinking about my claustrophobia. I hate small, confined places. Knowing I can’t get out of a small space can send me into a spiral. I hate elevators, planes etc. so news of an MRI was not favored.

Now that I’ve had a couple, I am considering myself a pro at MRI’s -brushes shoulders off-. I feel like each time I get one, I get a little more comfortable. If you are new to the process, though, the “unknowns” can be scary even if you aren’t claustrophobic. Here is a bit about what to expect:

  • There is such thing as an Open MRI – If you are claustrophobic like me, ADVOCATE FOR YOURSELF and make sure your appt in made in an open MRI, or and open sided MRI. These options will allow you to have both sides of the “tube” open and alleviate the claustrophobia a bit. I also always confirmed this was the case when my appts were being confirmed by Shields MRI. It’s always good to hear it again beforehand.
  • You Can Bring Someone in the Room With You – This was major for me, I didn’t realize how easy it would be for me to have someone in the room with me. My husband was in the room for the second MRI I had. He just wore metal free clothing and had to wear headphones. Knowing he was in the room calmed my nerves and he was really in awe of the whole process.
  • When you first check in, there are a lot of questions – For me, being nervous, it was a little annoying to answer so many personal questions but I understand how important those questions are in getting the clearest results for my Dr.
  • You May be Required to Have an MRI with Contrast – Contrast is basically an ink that they inject via IV. The ink lights up the spot in question allowing for clearer visibility. Your Dr. will tell you beforehand if this is required in your scan.
  • You will have to Change Into Hospital Clothing Prior to the Scan – They will give you scrub pants and a hospital gown to wear in the machine.
  • You Will Have to Take off All Your Jewelry Prior – They provide lockers for all of your personal belongings. This most recent visit, I forgot my wedding rings in the locker and we left! Next time, I will not even be bringing them for fear of that happening again but if you feel comfortable doing so, they will be in a locked space that only you have the code to.
  • They Will Make You As Comfortable as Possible – The staff is always so accommodating. I am very honest about my nerves and the nurses have always been so reassuring to me. They walk me through every step they are doing even if its simply preparing me to begin. They will give you a pillow, a warm blanket if you want one and will prop your legs up a bit to alleviate any back pain.
  • You Will Have a Squeeze Ball – This squeeze ball connects you directly to the staff that is preforming the MRI. The second you squeeze it they will communicate with you. I found this particularly comforting.
  • You Will Have Headphone and Be Communicated with and Also Have Music – The nurse will speak to you through the headphones. He or She will give you any instructions as far as deep breaths you need to take etc or even just tell you how many images you have left or just to say “you’re doing great.” They also ask you what kind of music you want to listen to and play it for the entirety of the scan.
  • The MRI Machine Makes Loud Noises – Like I mentioned earlier you will have headphones in but the machine does make loud banging, grinding noises. Don’t be alarmed those are normal.

Did you take an MRI and learn something you wish you knew beforehand? Leave it in the comments below!!

3 thoughts on “MRI’s: What to Expect”

  1. Great post! I had an open MRI and will insist on this in the future as I couldn’t complete the traditional closed MRI. I’m claustrophobic as well and i was positioned on my side very close to the side of the tube for my closed MRI. The open MRI was better for positioning (less pain because I was not laying on my tumor arm) and the tech was so nice about the whole thing. Also, I am supplementing with CT scans for about half of my scans. Those are a breeze!


    1. I can’t believe some people have 0 issues with closed MRI’s! I can’t imagine being on my side, being on my back was hard enough. Thank you so much for sharing your experience with me!!


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