I’ve had more than my fair share of MRIs since I started experiencing symptoms of Chiari Malformation. While I know there are plenty of people who have had more than I have, I have decided to put together this post and give my advice for dealing with MRI tests and making them a slightly more pleasant experience. This advice applies to both children and adults, whether they are having their first or fiftieth MRI test.
Don’t wear anything with metal or metallic fabrics
Avoid wearing jeans or workout fabrics with traces of metal in the fabric, or hoodies with metal accents. I usually wear black leggings and a comfy t-shirt, along with a sweatshirt in winter. Some hospitals may require patients change into a hospital gown for MRIs, though.
If you are having a MRI of the brain (or on the upper half of your body), your feet will be hanging out of the machine. Socks will be your best friend to help keep warm. Hospital staff will often let you layer your socks underneath the hospital traction socks- I like wearing fuzzy socks underneath.
Go to the bathroom before the test
I wish I could underline this twenty times, it’s that important. I nearly peed my pants in a MRI machine once, and I never forgot to use the bathroom before one of the tests again. Seriously, even if you don’t think you have to go, go anyway. Just check to make sure you don’t have to give a urine sample first.
Bring a small stuffed animal
Having something to hold onto in the machine is greatly comforting. Again, avoid ones with metal or batteries. I usually bring a stuffed animal with embroidered accents as opposed to plastic ones.
Alert staff to any dental work
When I had my first MRI, the radiologist had no idea what a foreign looking object in my mouth was and wrote it in the report. Upon further investigation, we realized it was my retainer. Alerting staff to items like this can be very helpful for the radiologist.
Don’t take off glasses until you are on the machine
I have terrible eyesight both with and without glasses, and request that I wear my glasses until the last possible minute, so I am able to navigate to the MRI machine without falling over. My glasses are removed by the nurse right before the test begins.
Verify what tests will be done
Check with the staff to make sure the correct tests will be completed. Also check to see if they will be done with or without contrast.
If available, request music
Some hospitals I’ve been to allowed patients to listen to music inside the machine. There are special plastic headphones for this, and it can really help pass the time when you’re in the machine for a while.
Stay as still as possible
Don’t even think about scratching your nose or moving your head, as that can throw everything off and tests will need to be restarted. If needed, press the call button and request a break.
Get copies of disks
Get as many copies of disks from the MRI test as possible to give to doctors, as well as to have on record. Having lots of disks has helped us tremendously when traveling to see doctors, as they want to see all of the images they can.
I am grateful that I am able to receive MRI tests without any additional accommodations. I hope that others can benefit from the wisdom I have gathered over the years.