One Way to Adapt to the Changing Times

We are excited to have an in-office MRI to help identify a variety of podiatry issues. With this new diagnostic tool comes patient education to get to know more about what an MRI is, what an MRI can detect, and expectations of getting an MRI.

With some foot and ankle conditions, your doctor order an MRI to help diagnose the issue that you are having with your foot and ankle. MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging, is a safe and completely painless way for doctors to look into your body. The pictures MRIs create look at the soft tissue and provide information that can improve diagnosis and can often allow us to determine if noninvasive treatment options are a possibility.

What is an MRI?

An MRI is the newest way to view the human body since the CT (CAT) scanner was invented. It is a way for doctors to look inside the body without the use of x-rays. Unlike conventional x-rays or CT scans, the MRI machine uses radio waves and a magnetic field to produce images of the soft tissues of the body. After the images are produced, they are transferred onto an x-ray film for a doctor to interpret them.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is used to diagnose health problems or conditions, including:

  • Arthritis
  • Fractures
  • Infections
  • Injuries of the tendons, ligaments, or cartilage
  • Tumors (soft tissue and bone)
  • Avascular necrosis
  • Non-unions or delayed unions of bone fractures
  • Joint problems
  • Spinal Disc Abnormalities
  • Structural Problems

Typically, doctors use an MRI when they suspect an illness or injury that a CT scan, X-ray, or ultrasound will not provide enough detail about.

Am I a good candidate for an MRI podiatry exam?

Some health conditions mean you may not be a good candidate for an MRI. If you have the following conditions, you may be given other exam options:

  • Conditions that require a heart pacemaker
  • Artificial heart valves
  • Electronic inner ear implants
  • Electronic stimulators
  • Implanted pumps
  • Metal fragments in eyes
  • Surgical clips in the head, such as aneurysm clips

Individuals with dental fillings, bridges, hip or knee replacements, or tubal ligations clips are safe for an MRI. Some personal items can pose a risk during an MRI including:

  • A Pacemaker – older pacemakers were thought to be susceptible to disruption when exposed to radio waves.
  • Skin tattoos – tattoo pigment contains ferromagnetic metallic compounds and could generate an electric current that can lead to a cutaneous burn.
  • Makeup – metals in some cosmetics may interact with MRI magnets. Because of that, you will want to not wear makeup or nail polish on the day of your MRI.
  • Implanted Drug Infusion Devices – The FDA has received reports of severe adverse episodes, including death, linked with using implantable infusion pumps in a magnetic resonance space.
  • Cochlear Implants – some individuals with cochlear implants feel pain or discomfort with the internal magnet of the device.
  • Metallic Prosthesis Implants – a metallic implant could distort an MR image or cause the machine to experience a signal loss.

These are not conditions that will prevent you from being able to have an MRI, but it is important to notify your technologist if any of these conditions apply to you.

What should I expect when I get an MRI?

Most people won’t know what to expect during an MRI exam, and it can be unnerving to not be prepared for what is going to happen. So, we thought we would break it down for you to help ease your nerves and reduce anxiety as you will know what to expect.

You will be asked to recline in a comfortable chair while our MRI technologist positions you. The chair will be moved towards the magnet opening and you will insert your foot to be scanned. The MRI machine will make a series of loud knocking, thumping, and tapping noises. These noises are completely normal, so don’t worry.

While the MRI machine is doing its job, we are going to ask that you simply rest and relax. You can even nap during that time! Most exams of the foot are quick, taking less than an hour to complete. We just ask that you are still during that time.

How should I prepare for a Foot MRI exam?

Preparing for a foot MRI exam is easy. You can eat, drink, and take prescribed medications as normal prior to the exam. Since you are having a leg exam, you can bring shorts to wear as long as they don’t have metal zippers or fasteners in them. If you don’t have any that lack metal, don’t worry, we have hospital gowns you can wear that will help you avoid interference the metal causes the machine.

With that said, you will be asked to remove jewelry, hearing aids, and asked to empty your pockets prior to your MRI. The reason for this is because the magnet could affect the items of this type or the items could affect the magnet.

How does a foot MRI feel?

Don’t worry, an MRI doesn’t cause pain, it will not vibrate, or cause any other unusual sensation. In turn, you will just be allowed to recline in your exam chair and relax. Sometimes patients read a book or choose to sleep for the short time the exam takes place.

How do I receive my MRI results?

MRI scans are usually not reported while you are in the machine itself. The images are filmed by a Radiographer who scans you and then later read by the Doctor. After the Doctor reviews your scanned images, he will be given the images and go over them with you.

At Metro Tulsa Foot & Ankle Specialists, we understand that needing an MRI can be intimidating, but our staff will be by you every step of the way. Make an appointment with a Podiatry Specialist today.