There is no special preparation for an MRI procedure. Clothes most be metal-free, otherwise we will provide you a gown. Watches, hearing aids, hair clips, bank cards, keys, cell phones, and other metal objects will not be allowed in the scan room. You will be asked to remove anything that might degrade MRI images of the head, including hairpins, jewelry, eyeglasses, hearing aids, piercing and any removable dental work. Because the strong magnetic field used for MRI will pull on any ferromagnetic metal object implanted in the body, MRI staff will ask whether you have a prosthetic hip, heart pacemaker (or artificial heart valve), implanted port, infusion catheter (brand names Port-o-cath, Infusaport, Lifeport), intrauterine device (IUD), or any metal plates, pins, screws or surgical staples in your body. In most cases surgical staples, plates, pins and screws pose no risk during MRI if they have been in place for more than four to six weeks. Tattoos and permanent eyeliner may also create a problem. You will be asked if you have ever had a bullet or shrapnel in your body or ever worked with metal. If there is any question of metal fragments, you may be asked to have an x-ray that will detect any such metal objects. Tooth fillings usually are not affected by the magnetic field but they may distort images of the facial area or brain, so the radiologist should be aware of them. The same is true of braces, which may make it hard to “tune” the MRI unit to your body.
The radiologist or technologist may ask about drug allergies and whether head surgery has been done in the past. If you might be pregnant, this should be mentioned. Some patients who undergo MRI in an enclosed unit may feel confined or claustrophobic. If you are not easily reassured, a sedative may be administered. Roughly one in 20 patients will require medication to reduce the anxiety associated with claustrophobia.