Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was first introduced
in the early 1970's. Though the technology continues to
advance, the basics of an MRI consist of using magnetic
fields, radio waves and computer software to look inside
the patient's body. An MRI is a non-invasive procedure,
and only requires you to be present for images to be generated.
Another benefit is that MRI images are created without
the use of radiation. which is typically found in x-ray
and computerized tomography (CT) scanning.
The MRI imaging services offered by Iowa Orthopaedic Center
generate high-quality state-of-the-art images of the human
anatomy. These images display high tissue contrast and
spatial resolution, and are optimized for orthopaedic
use by our skilled technicians.
MRI images are created through the excitation of hydrogen
protons by radio frequency (RF) pulses. The MRI generates
very brief millisecond RF pulses; these RF pulses excite
hydrogen protons, and elevate them to a higher energy
state. As the protons return to a lower "resting"
energy state, they release electromagnetic energy. This
process, called "relaxation", takes anywhere
from a few milliseconds to a few seconds, depending on
the kind of tissue where the protons are located. This
energy is picked up and amplified by the magnet's coils,
and turned into precise anatomical visual images.
An MRI provides safe, pristine images that assist physicians
greatly in diagnosing and treating orthopaedic injuries.
It is completely safe for patients of all ages.
The MRI we use gives doctors a detailed look at the soft
tissue elements of the body, including cartilage, ligaments,
tendons, and muscles and nerves that cannot be detected
by normal x-rays. MRI is effective in the clinical evaluation
of knee, hip, shoulder, hand, wrist, foot and ankle injuries
or conditions, spine injuries and disease, musculoskeletal
disorders, brain disorders, traumatic injuries, and tumor
The Iowa Orthopaedic Center's Open MRI Center is located
at 450 Laurel Street in Des Moines south of Mercy Hospital.
It is a state-of-the-art open model that can be used to
assess any part of the human anatomy.
An MRI offers the best of all imaging modalities for orthopaedics
because of its superior contrast differentiation between
muscle, fat, vessels, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, cortical
bone and marrow bone. Also, the images provided by an
MRI are either two or three-dimensional, depending on
the needs of the doctor. In comparison, x-rays can provide
only one-dimensional images.
Besides the superior imaging results provided by MRI,
the Iowa Orthopaedic Center's imaging is centered around
your comfort. Most MRI machines are closed and require
the patient to be inserted in a cylinder-like opening.
These tight confines may cause patients to feel claustrophobic.
The MRI used by Iowa Orthopaedic Center is open on all
sides thus virtually elimination any feeling of claustrophobia.
There is no pain associated with MRI imaging, and there
are no side effects or after effects. During an MRI procedure,
you may hear low volume humming during the scanning portion
of the imaging. In order to make our patients feel completely
comfortable, you wiII be given a headset and you can select
what you want to listen to from news, radio talk shows,
or your favorite music.
No special preparation is required prior to an exam at
our open MRI. You may eat normally and can go about your
daily routine. Continue to take any medications prescribed
by your doctor unless otherwise directed.
Once ready for the imaging study, you will be positioned
as comfortably as possible on the examining table. The
table will slide under the magnet so the part of the body
to be imaged is in the proper area. Once you are situated
for the MRI, make sure you are comfortable so that it
is easy to remain still during the imaging segments. Breathe
normally. Our highly skilled technicians will take over
from there, and make every effort to ensure your MRI experience
is as comfortable as possible. The average time for an
MRI procedure is 30-45 minutes, so please plan accordingly.
There are some MRI studies that require more time, up
to 90 minutes in some cases, so be sure to ask your technician
how long they estimate the procedure will take.
IMPORTANT CONSIDERATIONS FOR YOUR MRI STUDY
Before your scan, an MRI technician will talk with you
in a private area and provide you with a secure area to
store your personal belongings. You will need to remove
any metallic objects because they can both interfere with
the MRI images and could lead to injury if brought within
the magnetic field. You will be asked to leave coins,
keys, watches, jewelry, glasses, hairpins, clothing with
metal zippers, clothing with hooks or snaps, credit cards,
cellular phones, pagers, non-permanent dentures, hearing
aids, and other metallic objects in the secure storage
space. As with any medical procedure, the safest thing
is to try to leave these objects at home, where you can
be assured that they are safe and will not interfere with
the MRI procedure.
Please also make sure you tell your MRI technician about
any medical devices or implants you may have. Patients
with pacemakers, ear implants, metal clips in the eyes,
metal implants, aneurysm clips, surgical staples, implanted
dmg infusion devices, wires from cardiac bypass procedures,
any implanted or embedded wires, certain types of medication
patches (that may contain small metal wires), shrapnel
or bullet wounds, permanent eyeliner, intrauterine devices
(IUD), etc. or neurostimulators (TENS unit) may be at
risk for complications because of the potential harmful
effects of these objects entering the magnetic field.
Pregnant women should be cautious about the MRI procedure,
and be examined after they have been cleared by their
family doctor and obstetrician.
In addition to the above items, patients who may have
previous metal in the eyes should be extremely cautious.
Please let your doctor and technician know if
you have ever had any metal chips or fragments in your
eyes from welding, grinding, or any accidents of any sort.
In these cases, an x-ray of the eye, called an
orbital x-ray, must be taken prior to the MRI procedure.
Even if the metal.fragment was taken out, or came
out on its own, or if the eye issue occurred a long time
ago, an x-ray is the only safe way to confirm that there
are no remaining fragments that might impact the procedure.
This is particularly important, because small fragments
in the eye could potentially damage the eyes if brought
into the magnetic field. If an orbital x-ray is required
prior to your MRI, the IOC Outpatient Scheduling Department
will arrange for this prior to your MRI. If you have done
welding or grinding but never got metal in your eyes,
you do not need the eye x-ray. If there is ever any question
about this, the x-rays should be obtained.
Other types of metallic objects, like fillings in your
teeth, dental braces and permanent bridges, etc. may be
present during an MRI procedure. They may cause some distortion
of the magnetic resonance image around the mouth area,
but they will not cause harm to the patient or the MRI
equipment. When necessary, you may be asked to remove
make-up and dentures and to wear a hospital gown to avoid
magnetic interference from belt buckles and zippers.