Kindly could you please tell me what the cons, dangers and side effects are for MRI? Thank you.

Let us start with the pros of a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) examination. MRI is a widely used imaging method that will provide your doctors with high quality images that they will use to see and better understand what is going on inside your body. Also, compared with other commonly used imaging methods such as x-rays, computerized tomography (CT), and nuclear medicine, MRI does not use high-energy radiation, and therefore it does not carry the very small risk of future cancer that is sometimes associated with x-rays and gamma rays (used in nuclear medicine).

As for the cons, in most clinical MRI scanners, patients are placed inside the relatively narrow bore (“donut hole”) of the scanner. This can provoke feelings of claustrophobia and anxiety in some patients. Moreover, you will be lying down on a not very comfortable table and be asked to stay as still as possible because any movement can compromise the quality of the acquired images. MRI exams are noisy, even when wearing hearing protection, and this can increase patient discomfort during the examination.

While MRI is considered to be safer than other imaging methods that use high energy radiation, it has unique safety considerations. The first thing to remember is that the MRI scanner uses a very powerful magnet that is ALWAYS ON and can attract any ferromagnetic (containing iron, nickel or cobalt) object that gets close enough to it. During the acquisition of the images, the MRI scanner uses radio waves (such as the ones used in radios, cellphones and other devices) that could increase your body temperature and any metallic object, ferromagnetic or not, on or inside your body could heat up and cause some burns. Some patients have experienced twitching, tremor, or pain that is associated with the use of electronic components inside the scanner. Contrast dyes commonly used in MRI examinations may cause an allergic reaction in some patients.

In general, MRI examinations are prescribed only if the benefits associated with it outweigh the potential risks (described above). Also, many steps taken before and during the examination are meant to prevent any of those risks from happening. Before your examination you will most likely get many questions from doctors and MRI technologists, all of which should be trained in MRI safety. Let your doctors or the MRI technologist know if you have any metal on or inside your body, any electronic devices like a pump or pacemaker, if you suffer from claustrophobia and/or anxiety, if you have any kidney problems, and/or if you are pregnant. You should be provided with special clothing and hearing protection to wear during your examination. At all times you should have the means to communicate with the MRI technologist to let him/her know about any issue or discomfort.

Most MRI examinations are completed without complications. In such cases, no side effects are known to be associated with the procedure.

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