How to prepare for a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) visit - Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago

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How to prepare for a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) visit

Most TMS studies require that you have an MRI scan before the first TMS session. MRI is non-invasive and safe for most people. However, if you have any metal or medical implants in your body or on your skin, you should not participate in a MRI study, because the strong magnetic fields in the MRI may interfere with or damage the devices, or move and heat up metal. For example, cardiac pacemakers or other medical implants are unsafe to bring into the MRI. Metal dental fillings are acceptable. You should let the investigators know if you think you might have any reasons why you should not participate in an MRI scan. They will thoroughly screen you before the scan to make sure that you can participate in the MRI scan safely. To see our MRI safety screening questions, see here.

The MRI procedure consists of changing into hospital clothes in the laboratory, filling a safety screening form, going through a metal detector, and lying on a bed that slides into a tunnel ("bore") inside the magnet. Those who suffer from claustrophobia (fear of enclosed spaces) may find being in the MRI machine uncomfortable. Because the scans are very sensitive to motion, your head will be firmly supported inside a helmet-shaped device, and you will be asked to lay very still without moving during the scans. The MRI makes loud sounds associated with its operation, but you will wear ear plugs so the sounds should not be bothersome. If you have a respiratory infection with cough or sneezing, please call at least 24 hours before your scan to re-schedule the MRI for a later time when you are better. This is because coughing or sneezing moves the head so much that the MRI scan will fail.

You cannot take your own eyeglasses or any metal inside the MRI. If the experiment requires that you need to see clearly, we will provide MRI-compatible glasses, or you may wear your own (non-colored) contact lenses. If you have any removable dental devices such as metal dentures, removable bridges, or retainers, you will be asked to remove them. If you have non-removable dental devices other than typical fillings, let the investigators know and they will determine if you can safely participate in a scan. It is recommended that women who are pregnant do not participate in MRI research, unless there is potential for direct clinical benefit to the participant.

Since the MRI magnetic fields are strong enough to wipe credit cards, you cannot bring your wallet in the MRI room. You also cannot wear any metal jewelry or make-up. We will provide a secure place to store your clothes and valuables during the scan.

We will try to make you feel comfortable during the scan. If you feel pain or become uncomfortable at any point during the visit, let the investigators know. They will try to make you more comfortable, and if that does not succeed, they will stop the scan. You may ask to stop the session at any time for any reason.

If you have any questions or concerns about participating in an MRI scan, do not hesitate to ask the study investigators or staff, or contact the CBS Director Tommi Raij.