MRI SCAN SYNOPSIS
In the world of modern medicine and general advancements in technology, the indication for advanced imaging is often present. Orthopedics is no different from any other specialty. We sometimes require imaging above and beyond a standard x-ray to determine the extent of the pathology, and subsequently the appropriate course of treatment. One of the choices for advanced imaging is the commonly known MRI scan.
MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging. The purpose is to further evaluate the integrity of soft tissue such as the rotator cuff musculature in the shoulder or the meniscus in the knee. Those images can also be used to further evaluate bony pathology like stress reactions or occult fractures not visualized on x-ray. An MRI uses magnetic field technology to generate images of a designated area of the body. These images are a series of slices that portray a three-dimensional picture to be viewed in a two-dimensional way by your doctor.
A benefit of MRI is that it does not expose a patient to radiation. However, the process of obtaining MRI images requires a patient to lie still in a narrow tube, and patients who are
dealing with painful acute injuries or who have spine issues may struggle. Other patients struggle because they are claustrophobic. Alternative options for a standard MRI do exist, such as an open MRI, but the clarity of the images is often diminished. Our strong preference is always a closed-tube MRI because of the superior quality and resolution of the images. Other options for patients who have claustrophobia or whose pain does not allow them to lie still is to use oral medication such as valium or even intravenous sedation. IV sedation greatly increases the risk of complication and the cost of the procedure and requires that it be done in a hospital setting, but it is a possibility for those who are otherwise unable to have the imaging completed and for whom the imaging is necessary for ongoing treatment.
Some patients are not able to be in an MRI machine due to an implanted electronic device, such as certain pacemakers. The magnetic field inside the tube is strong enough that it can pull on those devices within the body. Such a contraindication would be determined prior to the exam. If you are unsure if your device can be scanned, we would call the manufacturer of the product for clarification. If a patient works with or around metal, we take an orbit x-ray of the eyes prior to the MRI to ensure that the eyes have no metal because any fragments could be affected by the magnet. Similarly, clothing can contain miniscule pieces of metal upon which the machine has the same effect. We know patients dislike changing into the clothes we provide, but it is truly for your own safety.
A lot of patients have concern regarding insurance coverage. It is rare that an MRI is denied completely. Most insurance companies require a prior authorization period before any kind of coverage is provided. This is one of the reasons that we can rarely accommodate a same day MRI, though we do our best if the day’s schedule allows. We have early morning and late night appointments available to help accommodate busy schedules. The benefit of having your MRI completed at our location rather than a hospital is that your MRI is never going to get bumped or cancelled due to emergent cases. Our price is competitive with other MRI imaging locations, and with that price comes higher quality images. Our MRIs are read by the radiologists in the ProHealth Care system initially Then your doctor will review it at your follow-up appointment as well. If your current aches and pains require an MRI for further evaluation, let Orthopaedic Associates of Wisconsin in Pewaukee handle the headaches and get you answers in a professional and expedient way!
This blog is written by one of our very own-Morgan. She is a certified athletic trainer working as a medical assistant with our providers each and every day in our clinic. She obtained a bachelor's degree in athletic training from Carroll University in Waukesha and a master's degree in Kinesiology from Michigan State University. She is excited to bring you updates and information about the happenings at OAW.