MRI stands for magnetic resonance imaging. It is a non invasive technique for producing diagnostic images of the body. Images are produced using a magnetic field and radio frequency pulses. This type of scanner does not use x-rays.
An MRI scan is a painless procedure but the scanner does make a loud drumming sound. It usually takes about 30 minutes to complete an MRI scan and during this time you must lie perfectly still. Some patients may need an injection of a contrast agent (a substance that changes the appearance of tissues on the scan) to help with the diagnosis. This is normally given into a vein in the arm.
There are no known risks or side effects associated with an MRI scan. However, some metal implants, such as cardiac pacemakers/defribrillators and specific heart valves and surgical clips are contra indications to an MRI and mean you will be unable to have an MRI scan.
CT stands for computerised tomography. It uses x-rays to produce cross sectional diagnostic images of inside the body.
If you are having your abdomen scanned you may be given a series of drinks (water containing a slightly aniseed flavour liquid) to take over a period of 1 to 1 ½ hours prior to your scan. This is to outline the bowel and give clearer images of the abdomen.
Some patients may need an injection of a contrast agent (a substance that changes the appearance of tissues on the scan) to help with the diagnosis. This is normally given into a vein in the arm.
You will be asked to lie on the couch which will move into the scanner and take the scans. It is a large circle and not a tunnel. The scan generally takes less than 30 minutes.
An ultrasound scan obtains pictures of inside the body without the use of x-rays. Ultrasound scanner use high frequency sound waves which are transmitted through the body and reflected by internal organs and structures. These echoes form the pictures which appear on the TV screen.
In order for clear pictures to be obtained, it is important that you have nothing to eat or drink for six hours prior to your scan. You will be asked to lie on a couch and some warm gel will be applied to the area under examination. A small instrument will then be moved gently over your abdomen. The examination usually takes 10=20 minutes and is quite painless.
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