Having an MRI scan

Having an MRI Scan

I feel like I’ve been banging on about my hip injury for the last few months. For those not aware, I injured my left hip whilst running 12 weeks ago. I couldn’t put any weight on my leg for several weeks and struggled to walk. I had physiotherapy and was given strengthening exercises which made a big improvement. I’ve been able to return to cycling, walking and swimming, however I still can’t run as the pain returns after only a few minutes.

My physio is not completely sure what the problem is so he referred me to a hip specialist for further investigations. At my initial appointment with the consultant, he examined me then I went for a X-Ray. Today, I returned to the hospital for my MRI scan.

My Mum had an MRI scan a few years ago when she broke her foot and she found it absolutely awful. She said she actually preferred the experience of childbirth to an MRI scan! Needless to say, I was quite anxious about the appointment this morning…

The MRI machine uses very powerful magnetic fields to create detailed cross-sectional images of the body. You must remove all metal objects including piercings and jewellery, otherwise the scanner can potentially pull them out of your body. I’ve got quite a few facial and body piercings, so I had some switched to plastic jewellery in advance of my appointment and the others I removed on the day.

I prepared for the scan by changing into a hospital gown with just knickers underneath, even your bra has to come off because of the metal underwire. My clothes and jewellery were left in a locker and I was called through into the scanning area…

Having an MRI Scan

The nurse advised that the particular scan they would be doing takes some time and I would be in the machine for 45 minutes. The nerves really started to kick in when I saw the machine and realised I would be going in head first.

I was strapped onto the bed and had sandbags and padding arranged around me, then a ‘frame’ was placed over my pelvis area. As the machine is very loud, I was given earplugs and headphones which they would play music through. I was asked for my choice of music genre from pop, metal or classical.  The nurses wouldn’t be able to hear me so I was also handed an emergency button to press incase I needed help whilst I was in the scanner.

I was rolled into the tunnel head-first and waited for the scan to start. Robin Thicke’s ‘Blurred Lines’ began playing from the headphones and I started to regret my choice of pop music. The machine whirred into action and started making a zapping, vibrating, banging noise.

It can be quite claustrophobic inside the scanner, I tried not to panic and focus on my breathing whilst singing along to the music inside my head. I stared at ceiling of the narrow white tunnel and tried to keep completely still. Occasionally the machine would stop, and I’d be rolled further into the tunnel. It did get warm inside the scanner and I felt myself sweating. I wanted to wipe my clammy hands, but I was conscious of not moving as it can cause the images to come out blurry. I closed my eyes and tried to pretend I was in savasana in yoga class.

I had no idea how long I’d been in the scanner. I tried to figure out the time based on the songs, I figured that if each song lasts 3-4 minutes, I’d be in the machine for the duration of 11-15 songs. As I was pondering, a voice came through the headphones telling me that I was doing well and I’d be out in 20 minutes. I wanted to nod to acknowledge that I’d heard, but again I knew I must not move.

Although the machine was noisy, it wasn’t as loud as I had expected. I could still hear the music playing… Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Gotye, Bruno Mars, Olly Murs… I wondered who created the playlist for the hospital. I also thought about how much the MRI machine cost and how it works. I wondered if I would get stuck inside the machine forever, I looked at the light at the end of the tunnel and reassured myself.

Just as Pharrell’s ‘Happy’ began to play, I heard a voice telling me that the scan was finished and they would be rolling me out of the machine. I was relieved to released from the enclosed space and unstrapped from the bed. The nurse said I done very well and kept still, I was proud of myself as I’m usually quite a fidget! I felt that I deserved a sticker or something for my bravery.

After changing back into my clothes and popping my jewellery back in, I was handed a CD with the images from the scan. I’m back for my follow-up appointment tomorrow to get my diagnosis and treatment options.

My MRI scan experience was actually easier than I expected. The 45 minutes passed fairly quickly and although it was claustrophobic inside the machine, it was actually bearable. The nurses were very supportive and explained what would happen throughout the procedure.

Here are a few images from my scan, it actually makes me really uncomfortable to look at the insides of my body:

Having an MRI Scan

MRI scans give a really clear picture of what is going on inside your body and can help the doctor pinpoint and diagnose the issue. I’d recommend Kent MRI scans if you have any lingering sports injuries.

Post written in collaboration with HCA Healthcare.

Have you ever had an MRI scan? 


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