I had my first MRI today in order to find out why my butt has been hurting (and bleeding) over a year since my proctectomy.  I’d be nice if perianal disease could quit being such a pain in the ass!

The experience was interesting, and if you have an IBD, you may at some point need an MRI too. Of course, no two experiences are the same, so keep that in mind while I explain how my day went.

What is an MRI?

An MRI is a technology that uses magnetic fields and radio waves to generate images that offer a different look into the body compared to x-rays or CT scans. My doc had suggested the MRI over another CT scan (which I had done earlier in the year because of my intestinal blockage), since MRI scans are safer and emit no ionizing radiation (which can damage cells).

There is no special prep needed for the test, other than not to eat or drink 4 hours before.  I knew that if I didn’t eat that morning, my stoma would stay quiet for the day, so I skipped both breakfast and lunch.

I had the test done at Toronto General Hospital, which is across the street from Mount Sinai – the hospital I had my ostomy surgery at. I was scheduled for 2:30 pm, and I made it there a bit early in case there were any forms to complete.  Surely enough, there was a form asking me about any health problems, allergies and if I have metal in my body (it is EXTREMELY important that the hospital knows if you’ve got metal in your body!).

With the form completed, I was I taken to a change area where I had been asked to put on a hospital gown:

A hopital gown is never out of style

Winter Fashion 2014

Being the weekend, the hospital was pretty empty,which meant there wasn’t really any waiting to be done.  After getting changed I was taken to get an IV line prepped and to answer more questions.  The IV line isn’t to get fluids, but it’s used to deliver a contrast dye during the scan (the dye used was called “Gadovist”).

The MRI room was pretty cool (as in geeky cool, not air-conditioned cool), and if you’ve never seen an MRI machine, it makes quite a first impression! This is one big-ass machine!

MRI Magnetic Resonance Imaging photo from thomas23

Photo credit: thomas23 of Flickr (MRI Magnetic Resonance Imaging)

I was asked to lay on the shuttle table and to remain perfectly still throughout the scan (30 minutes or so).  I was also given a bulb that could be squeezed in an emergency so the MRI technician could stop the test. What kind of emergency, you ask? Well, I would imagine that most alarms are triggered because of panic, by I was told that if anything hurts  (especially after the contrast dye is injected),I should trigger the alarm.

Before going in, I was given a pair of headphones (to block out sound, but also to get instructions from the MRI tech ), and was sent in.

I will say that even if you aren’t claustrophobic, the  MRI tunnel may still make you uncomfortable,because you aren’t allowed to move, like you would be able to in a tanning bed; the ends of the tunnel are both open, so you aren’t completely caged in.   There was a cool breeze on my chest from a vent just above my head, which was a nice feeling: close your eyes and you’d feel as if you’re on the beach (sort of).

The sound that an MRI makes is probably what gives it a bad reputation.  Many people will describe it as a loud knocking, but the MRI tech explained that depending on what they are scanning, the sound changes.  Mine sounded like a synth effect you’d here in a dance song or alarm, but there was no knocking that I could remember.

While the tone of the sound changed during certain points in the test, it sounded a lot like this:

Because I had the headphones on, the buzzing wasn’t loud, although the headphones had some chirping sounds going on in the background.  It was quite relaxing to be honest; I love ambient or repeating sounds, so that could be why. I could have easily fallen asleep in that tunnel, but I’m sure waking up in a strange place wouldn’t be very fun.

There were no strange feelings during the test (that’s good, right? ), other than when the contrast dye was pumped into the IV line.  This was done during the last five minutes of the test, and I was given a warning by the MRI tech that I could experience a cold sensation in my body and/or notice a strange taste or smell. Sadly (or luckily), I didn’t experience any if that, but I could feel the fluid going in.

And that was it. Now I wait for the results, which could take a week or less), and decide what the game plan is from there.

QUESTION : Have you had an MRI? How was your experience?