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So Your Doctor Ordered an MRI...

So your doctor ordered an MRI, and you really don’t know what to expect. This is my guide to you from both a nursing standpoint of why we make you go through this, and from a patients point of view of what you are in for!

Courtesy of Intermountain Medical Imaging, Boise, Idaho.

Nursing Point of View: We live and die by the MRI. Somedays I feel like all I do is order, review, and call patients with results of….MRIs. It’s important that you suck it up and get these done regularly! A common myth of MS is that if you aren’t having symptoms, no new damage is occurring. WRONG! Silent damage can occur, and it’s in your best interest to catch it before it becomes extensive enough for you to have symptoms! In addition they tell us how well your medications are working, and screen for serious complications from drugs like Tysabri.

If you want to get your nerd on take a listen to this Keynote address by Dr. Vollmer of the Rocky Mountain MS Center. In it he discusses the importance of treating disease based on how MRIs look, and not just based on if you are having symptoms or not:

Tips & Tricks: Ok so we’ve established how much, as a nurse, I love MRIs. However, as a patient I hate MRIs just as passionately! The first couple were easy, breezy, lemon squeezy…then I stopped appreciating being shoved in a tube, and now I downright dread them! I’m guessing everyone here knows what an MRI is (but just in case you don’t- Mayo Clinic) so I’ll skip right to my tips:

#1: Do something relaxing the day before. I personally opt for a good massage. For you it might be yoga, meditation, reading, or a good nap- do anything that relaxes you. Now, when you lay on that MRI table pretend you are doing that activity. I run through the whole massage from scalp to toes in my mind and focus on how good it felt and how relaxed I felt. Sometimes this helps and sometimes I can’t quite focus and calm down- but it’s worth trying!

#2: MUSIC! When I learned my MRI center will play music from your iPod my world changed. If I had to hear Somewhere over the Rainbow one more time I was going to run, even now hearing that darn song gives me PMSD (post MRI stress disorder)! Now I have a rocking playlist that gets me through.

3#: Communicate! Do you get a painful pressure point every time? Tell your MRI tech, sometimes they can pad that area before getting started.

#4: If you feel like you need it ask your doctor for a little something something to get you through. Some people say it helps, others don’t get any benefit. I haven’t tried it (yet) because everything tends to knock me out cold. Of course only do this if you have a ride to and from the procedure!!

For anyone else who has been through an MRI, what was your experience? Share any tips and tricks you may have!

Site content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical treatment or guidance. Always consult a healthcare provider before making medical decisions.

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