a woman with NMO receiving an M R I scan

Tips For Your First MRI Scan

Getting an MRI scan for your NMO can be scary. It could be because of the size of the machine that you’ll be lying in, but also, if you have never had one before, you’re not sure of what to expect. This article has some of my tips to help you feel prepared and at ease, if this is your first time getting an MRI scan.

Why get an MRI scan for NMO?

MRI scans produce three-dimensional images of primarily non-bony body parts. It can be used to identify any nerve damage from NMO, also called "lesions," in the soft tissue of your body.1

My full-body MRI scan identified multiple lesions in my whole spine. It also showed a high-signal lesion in my brain. That's what helped me get my diagnosis of NMOSD - along with a spinal tap and blood tests.

Preparing for your first scan

The first thing you should know about MRI scans is that you’re most likely going to be told to take off any jewelry before the scan.

No jewelry allowed

The best thing, in my opinion, is take the jewelry off at home. It can get easily lost in the hospital. However, some hospitals do offer a locker to keep your things safe which is pretty helpful.

If a piece of jewelry can't be removed then the person in charge (may be a nurse) will bring out a magnet and see if the piece of jewelry reacts to the magnet. If it doesn’t, then the MRI scan can go ahead.

Really, just avoid wearing any metals!

Next, you’re not allowed to have any metal in any of your clothing either. For example, wired bras should not be worn, and you also shouldn't wear hair ties with metal in them. You may be told to remove your clothing and wear a hospital gown but that depends on the hospital. To be safe, wear comfortable clothing.

Once you're in the MRI machine...

You’re going to be lying in the same position for a long time, and you’d rather be laying with comfortable clothes than clothes that are irritating. In my experience, I was wearing my own clothes. You can also ask for a blanket if you are feeling a bit chilly.

Battling claustrophobia in the MRI

If you’re feeling claustrophobic, don’t be afraid. A lot of people feel the same way during their first MRI. You’re probably imagining that you will be stuck in a tight space for a long amount of time. Yes, it’s a bit of a small space but the scanners are not as small as you may think.

Be patient, it usually takes this long

Depending on where you are getting your MRI, they do usually take a while. Be prepared for lying in the same position for a long amount of time. So, make sure you go to the toilet beforehand because it will be hassle trying to empty your bladder during the scan.

The noises are normal, I promise

The MRI will be noisy. But don’t be scared, the person in charge will give you headphones to reduce the noise. However, you will still hear it. Sometimes they even put some music on for you. This helped calm my nerves during the MRI.

Vocalize your feelings and concerns!

Lastly, if you’re feeling like something isn’t right during the scan, you can let the person in charge know. Even before the scan, ask as many questions as you want. It’ll help you calm down. it’s better to know what’s going to happen during the scan rather than showing up with no clue than being scared or surprised at how the scan works.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Neuromyelitis-Optica.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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