What Are the Best Questions to Ask before Booking an MRI?
These are just a few of the questions our CDI radiologists want you to ask your doctor when you hear, “You need an MRI.” The quality of the scan and the team that gets you through should be your primary concern, but if you’re not used to getting MRIs, you’ll have other questions too.
How does an MRI work?
A magnetic resonance imaging or MRI machine, is an amazing diagnostic tool which allows radiologists to see detailed images of your organs and tissues in order to diagnose injuries, disease or anything abnormal in the brain, spine, joints, abdomen, pelvic region, breast, blood vessels, heart and other body parts.
MRIs do not use ionizing radiation like X-rays or CT scans. Instead it uses a magnetic field, radio waves and computers to produce cross sectional images of the area being scanned and even produces 3D images, which allow the radiologist to view the area from many different angles. It is a powerful diagnostic tool to see detail, in the body, in a non-invasive way.
What Type of MRI Machine do You Use?
At CDI, you will find our radiologists work very closely with primary care physicians in order to ensure that you are getting the best scan, with the right machine, so you can get an accurate diagnosis. In order to get the best, most accurate images, the radiologist may tell you that the only option would be a traditional MRI. This traditional, tube-shaped machine gets high-quality images, especially when looking at the brain, spinal column or musculoskeletal system or if images of the vascular system are needed.
If claustrophobia is an issue for you, it’s worth asking your doctor or the imaging center if you can have an Open MRI (watch this video of the Open MRI experience). If you have physical limitations or claustrophobia, this is an excellent alternative depending on the radiologist’s recommendation and the images needed. These machines can range from 0.3T to 1.2T strength of magnet. A 1.2T magnet will give much better quality images over a 0.3T.
Talk to your doctor, call your imaging center and read more about what type of MRI machine is right for you here.
Is the Radiologist Sub-specialized?
There’s a chance you’ll never meet your radiologist – that’s the person who looks at the images after your scan and interprets them for your doctor. What you should know is that there are different kinds of radiologists. Some are like Swiss Army knives – they do it all. These radiologists look at images from head to toe. At CDI, many of our radiologists are sub-specialized. These doctors read the same part of the body over and over. In other words – they are really good at detecting any abnormalities. We have breast radiologists, neuroradiologists, musculoskeletal radiologists, vascular radiologists – all focused on that particular part of your body. Dr. Kishan Yalavarthi, a neuroradiologist at CDI in St. Louis, explains sub-specialized radiology like this:
“You’re getting people who focus their practice and their experience on that specific area. So when I’m looking at a brain and spine – that’s the majority of what I do on a day-to-day basis.”
To be sub-specialized, a doctor goes through medical school training plus five years of residency. Then they go on to a fellowship to specialize in a small, focused branch of radiology. All that takes a lot of training and at CDI we take pride in knowing that we provide quality care to every individual who walks through our doors. You should expect the same from any imaging provider. Quality care, to us, means staffing highly skilled radiologists who are excited about what they do and care about our patients.
What Happens After my MRI?
We also believe that quality care includes communication with your primary care physician – any time, any day. Our radiologists are here to work with your doctor, ensuring you are getting the best possible MRI image and accurate diagnosis promptly. That means that you can walk out of our office with a disc in your hand of the images from your scan. We also send the images and our radiologist’s interpretation of them to your doctor within two days. And once your doctor gets the images, our expert radiologists work with them to answer questions.
CDI also believes in helping you through the whole process – from booking your appointment to delivering the diagnostic images. We want to answer all your questions and concerns and if something comes up on an image – we are here to support you and help you with your care. Quality care, to us, means staying beside you, answering questions, explaining what’s next, and help you get through your MRI – beginning to end.
About Dr. Gau
Megan M. Gau, M.D. is a board certified diagnostic radiologist with Ernst Radiology Group serving SSM Imaging in Missouri. Dr. Gau has been an active member of the DePaul Medical staff since 2006. Read her full bio here.
About Dr. Yalavarthi
Kishan D. Yalavarthi, M.D. is a board certified diagnostic and neuroradiologist at ProSight Radiology Group who reads for St. Luke's Center for Diagnostic Imaging in Missouri. He specializes in neuroradiology and musculoskeletal imaging, and performs diagnostic and therapeutic injection procedures to help patients manage joint and back pain. Dr. Yalavarthi also performs image-guided interventional breast procedures. Read his full bio here.
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