If you’ve been in a car accident, it is important to see a doctor, even if you are only experiencing mild symptoms of pain and discomfort. Whiplash, one of the most common injuries resulting from a car accident, can often have delayed symptoms so you may not realize you have sustained a serious injury for hours, days, or even a week.
That’s why seeking medical treatment as soon as possible can help. An experienced doctor will use a diagnostic imaging test called an MRI to take pictures of the soft tissues inside your body to identify any muscle sprains, tears, or other injuries, in order to provide the correct diagnosis and treatment. Here’s what you can expect from an MRI after an accident.
Prepping for an MRI
There are a few things to know before you undergo an MRI. First of all, MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging, and uses strong magnets and radio frequencies to take detailed photos of the inside of your body. Because of these strong magnets, it is important to not wear any metal for the test, such as a watch, glasses, hearing aids, or other medical devices. Speak with your doctor if you have a medical implant, as it may impact your ability to be in the MRI machine.
It is important to speak with your doctor if you have any concerns or anxieties, in which case your doctor may prescribe a medication to take prior to the test to help you relax. Additionally, a doctor may want to see an MRI with contrast, meaning you either imbibe or receive an injection of a dye that will provide contrast to certain areas to enhance the images. All of this will be communicated to you prior to your scheduled MRI so you know what to expect.
Beginning the Scan
A medical technician will introduce you to the testing center and explain what the experience will be like. You will lie down on your back and need to be completely still for the duration of the MRI test.
Once you are lying down, the table will slowly and safely pass into a circular tunnel with openings on both ends, which is the MRI machine itself. The technician will then go to an adjacent room and speak to you through a two-way intercom into the room as they watch the scans as they are taken.
You can expect to hear what many patients describe as a loud banging or tapping sound, which is the movement of the magnet inside the tube.
During the Scan
A typical MRI test can last fifteen minutes to an hour, depending on the scale and variety of images needed. You must remain still during the entirety of the test so the images are not blurry, otherwise, you may need to re-do the exam again.
While the scan is going on, the technician will explain to you what is going on at each step to help provide you with information and comfort throughout the process. Many steps are taken to help address your comfort during the scan, including: a well-lit space to reduce the experience of being enclosed, pillows to help address any discomfort you may have lying on your back, and fans to circulate the air in the room. You can expect to be provided with earplugs or headphones to wear during the test in order to lessen the sounds coming from the machine.
After the MRI
When the diagnostic imaging test is complete, the technician will return to the room and you will be able to move again. Depending on the duration of the exam, you may want to rise slowly and take your time getting up.
The technician will then escort you to a room where you can change, and you will be able to leave. The images on the MRI scans will be submitted to your doctor, who will schedule a follow-up appointment to review the results with you in great detail.
At AICA Orthopedics, our highly trained and skilled medical professionals communicate with you throughout the entire process so you can feel informed and at ease. Our doctors only utilize diagnostic imaging tests when necessary and will always inform you of the process, the results, and how this impacts your treatment plan. Give us a call today!