How to Prepare for a Low Back MRI

December 11, 2018 – 3 min read

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low back mri

If you’ve been suffering with low back pain and haven’t responded well to conventional treatments, a low back MRI may be ordered by your physician. An MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging, uses magnetic technology to create images of the inside of your body. This technology is able to visualize soft tissues, ligaments, and nerves in ways that X-rays or CT scans cannot. Here’s how you can prepare for your low back MRI.

Talk to Your Doctor

Before your test, your doctor should discuss with you what medications you are taking, if there’s a possibility you could be pregnant, what previous surgeries you have had and if you have any devices or metal parts implanted inside your body, such as a pacemaker or screws and rods. You should also tell your doctor if you use an IUD for birth control, if you have kidney disease, or if you get very nervous or scared in confined spaces. If you have a phobia of closed in spaces, your doctor may prescribe you a medicine that will help you relax before the test. If this is the case, plan for someone to drive you to and from the appointment since you will not be able to drive yourself. If your doctor wants to use contrast and you are breastfeeding, discuss this with your doctor.

The Morning of the Test

There’s no need to go without food or water for an MRI. Eat breakfast as you normally would. Avoid wearing jewelry, makeup, or clothing with metal buttons or snaps. If you do wear clothing that has metal, such as an underwire bra, you will be asked to change into a gown. However, if you wear comfortable clothes with no metal whatsoever, you may be able to have the test done without changing into a gown. You may have an IV placed if your doctor has ordered an MRI with contrast to allow them to better visualize blood vessels and organs.

During the Test

An MRI does not hurt, although you will be asked to lie on a flat table that may be uncomfortable. The machine is loud, so you will be given earplugs or headphones with music. The test can take between a half hour to an hour, and it’s important that you relax and stay as still as possible. If you move during the test, the images may become unclear and the MRI may need to be repeated. This can either cause your test to last longer, or you may be asked to come back at a different time.

After the Test

If you were given a medicine to help you relax, you’ll need someone to drive you home and you may be sleepy. If not, you can drive and resume your normal activities right away, even if you received an IV with contrast. There is nothing special that you need to do after an MRI. Your doctor will call you with the results in a few days. You may need to schedule an appointment to go over the MRI results in detail.

Save Money On Your MRI

MRI scans at hospitals cost significantly more than an MRI done at an independent imaging center, even though the scan is exactly the same. To save money on your MRI, contact American Health Imaging at 855-214-7169 to learn more.