The first things we need to know about Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is that it does not expose us to radiation, it is a painless technique, it does not produce any side effects and it can be repeated as often as needed, without contraindications.
The “Atlas Imaging” team is based on a Signa Explorer 1.5 T MRI magnetic resonance device, produced by General Electric. With its help and artificial intelligence software, our specialists interpret cardiac, oncological and central nervous system examinations. Soon, we will extend AI support to urological examinations as well.
One of our strengths is that “Atlas Imaging” methods shorten post-investigation examinations, reducing the time a doctor spends on image interpretation from a few hours to a few minutes. In addition, the software we use provides important information such as brain volumes, heart volumes and makes essential calculations. Access to a cloud-based database allows both us and the referring doctor to follow the progress of a case permanently.
How do we prepare?
Our patients need to know that Magnetic Resonance Imaging is very safe and most people can perform the procedure. On the day of your MRI scan, you should be able to eat, drink and take any medication as usual, unless otherwise advised by reception staff at the time of your scan appointment .
It is necessary to carry out a blood test – serum creatinine, because sometimes a contrast substance (gadolinium) is administered for a better visualization of the tissues.
Before entering the machine room you must remove your jewellery, watch, glasses, hairpins, hair clips and any other objects that may contain metal (pen, keys, coins, hearing aids, piercings).
Of course, during the entire period of the examination, you must listen to the instructions of the specialized staff who assist and carry out the investigation. At “Atlas Imaging” you will have the chance to speak with the imaging specialist before the examination – we know how stressful the experience can be for a patient, so we are there to explain all the steps and make sure we answer any questions you may have.
- Implantable cardiac defibrillator
- Cochlear implants
- Bullet, shrapnel or any other type of metal fragment
- Artificial heart valves
- Medication delivery devices (insulin pump)
- Tattoos – if they were done less than six weeks before the investigation
Pregnancy and breast-feeding
If you are pregnant or think you may be pregnant, you should tell your radiologist. Although there is no study showing that MRI affects pregnancy in any way, it is recommended as a precaution to avoid this investigation during the first trimester of pregnancy.
Because MRI uses only magnetic fields and radio waves to obtain images, there are no concerns about performing this procedure while breastfeeding. Your baby can resume breastfeeding as soon as the examination is done. Contrast material can also be used because a very small amount of gadolinium is excreted in breast milk.
How long does the investigation take?
An MRI scan can take anywhere from 15 minutes to over an hour, depending on the size of the area scanned and the number of images taken. You must remain still during the examination, as any movement during the investigation artifacts the resulting images.
During an MRI scan, the patient is inside the magnetic tube. Some patients may feel claustrophobic during the procedure. Therefore, patients with a history of claustrophobia must specify this. Relaxation is important during the procedure and patients are asked to breathe normally. Our medical staff is always close to you during the procedure. Additionally, there is a means of communicating with staff (such as a patient-owned bell) that can be used for contact if the patient cannot tolerate the claustrophobic condition. At “Atlas Imagistica” we fully understand and support our patients, and when we feel that a person will feel more at ease if accompanied by someone during the examination, we will allow this. We do this for children whose parents we leave with them and for other categories of patients in need.
What happens after the investigation is over?
After the MRI scan is complete, the computer generates visual images of the area of the body that was scanned. All captured images will be written to a CD. The result of the investigation is released by the radiologist in the form of a detailed medical report, after which the referring physician discusses the results with the patient and/or family.
At “Atlas Imagistica”, our imaging specialists have a discussion with the patient or family immediately after the examination to give them a first conclusion – perhaps this is not always requested, but we are there to give a first opinion, to calm down, let’s explain. The role of the referring doctor remains extremely important – he is the best able to make the diagnosis, since he has all the medical data and knows the entire clinical picture.