What is MRI examination?
An MRI examination is an imaging process based on magnetic resonance, which produces detailed images of the human body. It makes reliable, high-contrast resolution images of different soft tissues, which facilitates accurate diagnosis and therapy. Its advantage is that it also offers multidimensional imaging, and it does not use X-rays for imaging, which means no radiation exposure.
When is it recommended?
In addition to the examination of diseases of the skull, spine and joints, an MRI examination is also excellent for the diagnostic evaluation of the neck, breasts, abdomen and pelvis. It helps to obtain information about certain diseases, injuries, metabolic disorders, diseases of the brain and spine, as well as the condition of vessels.
An MRI examination is indicated for headaches, dizziness, the detection for metastases, certain injuries (for example torn ligament in the knee), spine or joint problems.
Abdominal, pelvic or breast MRI examinations are performed if other imaging techniques (ultrasound, CT, mammography) do not lead to a definitive diagnosis. A breast MRI examination is also suitable for the evaluation of the breast implant’s integrity implanted during breast augmentation surgery; furthermore, it is also used to evaluate the effectiveness of radio- and cytostatic therapies. An MRI examination is able to evaluate the condition and viability of the heart muscle and also to detect congenital and acquired cardiac disorders.
At what age can the examination be performed?
All age-groups can be examined, but sedation or general anaesthesia may be necessary in case of infants, children, or unconscious, claustrophobic patients, and those with involuntary movements.
How is an MRI examination performed?
The examination may take place after previous consultation and the assessment of your health condition. Usually, you have to lie on your back in the examination unit; the examination of a body region usually lasts 15 to 40 minutes. If needed, the specialist recommends the administration of a contrast medium.
Lying in a tight space can cause claustrophobia for some patients. During the examination, you may keep in touch with our colleague through a speaker, and you can ask for help – if needed– with an indicator you are given for the scan. The operator follows the examination by camera as well. Earplugs and ear protectors are provided to reduce/eliminate noises caused by the machine. The MRI examination consists of several sequences; during a sequence (2 to 4 minutes) the patient has to stay still and lie in the position set by the operator. The operator informs you when the examination is finished.
An MRI examination has no side effects; however, the contrast medium may cause hypersensitivity in some patients, which is mild in most of the cases (nausea, rash, sneezing), and rarely, these reactions may be serious. Our colleagues are prepared to treat these. Always inform your physician if you have previously had any negative reaction caused by iodinated contrast medium. Side effects caused by the contrast medium are more likely if you have a heart disease, asthma, diabetes, kidney or thyroid gland disease. Always inform the examining radiologist about these.
What are the benefits of an MRI examination?
- It does not cause radiation exposure
- It is painless
- It causes no harmful effects on the body
- It can be used as screening
- It is a precise, reliable and modern diagnostic procedure
In what cases should the examination not be performed?
Since the examination is performed in a magnetic field, it cannot be performed for patients with a pacemaker. Please inform us about this before the examination. It must be ascertained that the patient does not have any magnetic item, either surgically implanted (hip or other joint prosthesis, nail, screw, metal valve, neurological or vascular surgical clip, ear implant), or acquired during an injury (iron, steel), because these might move in the magnetic field and cause severe or even life-threatening injuries. Nowadays implants are non-magnetic; however, for past operations, information about the implant should be presented.
During pregnancy and breast-feeding, your physician and the radiologist decide if an MRI examination can be performed.
How do I request an MRI examination?
A specialist’s referral is necessary for an examination financed by the National Health Insurance Fund (Hungarian acronym: NEAK). General practitioners cannot issue a referral for an MRI examination. An MRI examination may be requested without a referral in the centres of Affidea Hungary during private consultation hours, if you pay for it. The booking time – with a referral, covered by public health insurance – is 2 to 6 months; in private care, in our private clinics, it is just a few days.