Brain MRI with and without contrast
I haven’t been posting for a while as I’ve been experiencing some strange health issues which were making me quite depressed…
I came to the US 2 weeks ago and exactly since that time I’ve been feeling definitely not well. At first I noticed some issues with my vision. My eyes are generally pretty fine, I don’t wear glasses and they used to be just perfect but here – I just couldn’t focus my eyes! It felt as if I was not looking directly at things and could not focus on anything. After two days I started to feel really dizzy! I felt like being on the boat… and I had nausea as well. A few days later a headache joined all these symptoms. It was becoming more and more difficult to function normally and it was really worrying :( Another puzzle to this jigsaw was that I had a bicycle accident with a car 14 years ago and the pain originated from that exact place – the most painful place on my head.
I went to a physician who was concerned about my condition when I told him about my blurred vision, dizziness, headaches. He advised to perform brain MRI with and without contrast as soon as possible.
MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging and is one of the most advanced and safe way of medical examination. This technique uses a powerful magnetic field to produce detailed pictures of internal body organs, including their soft tissues and blood vessels. MRI uses the fact that body contains a lot of water and there is a density contrast between different structures like tissues, muscles, vessels, tumors. It produces plenty of pictures of one organ as if it was slicing in and then all of these pictures are combined into one 3-D picture that you can see best on the computer screen.
The first thing I was asked before examination was if I’m claustrophobic. Well, I’m rather not but I don’t feel comfortable in small caves for example ;) I was asked to take off all metal things like rings and they told me to take off everything I had on my top and to wear their loose shirt. I was also proposed to be under blanket during the examination which was great for me as I love being covered :) The examination was to last 40 about minutes. The nurse told me that the first part will be without contrast and then she’ll take me out of the scanner for a while to make an injection and we’ll do the second part.
MRI scanner is a big tube surrounded by a giant circular magnet. I was placed on a movable bed and a nurse asked me what kind of music I like – classical, jazz, rock or radio maybe? I told her that I’d like to listen to the radio. She placed huge headphones on my head which were very tight! Generally my biggest fear associated with this exam was how I’ll manage to lie down on my painful head – I haven’t done that for ages!! I thought I won’t be able to do that. As the headphones were extremely tight for me I said that I don’t want them. She said that is fine but in that case I have to wear ear plugs for safety matters. Additionally, I was given a pillow under my legs which was nice and a security button to press in case I feel really bad during the exam. Then the nurse placed my head in plastic cage, made it lie straight (auuuch!) and tighten my head even more! I was also told not no move my head as MRI scanner is very sensitive. I was asked to close my eyes for the time I’ll be going into the tube. I opened my eyes being inside and it wasn’t so bad – only half of my body was inside. The nurse went to another room I guess (I was unable to move) and informed me via speakers that we are starting. She told me that the machine was going to be loud but it turned to be extremely loud!!! It was making such strange noises, a mixture of techno party and klaxons. Somehow I survived it with my eyes closed.
I was taken out and instructed not to move. The nurse gave me an injection. MRI contrast agents are given to improve the visibility of blood vessels, tumors, etc. A moment after the injection I felt a strange taste in my mouth, a bit metallic I would say. I was taken back into the scanner and the examination lasted 10 more minutes. When it was over the nurse helped me to remove the cage and told me that the results will be available within 2 days. However in the US you don’t receive them to your hands – they are just in the hospital’s system and you have to schedule a visit with a specialist who will tell you about the MRI results. And so I did!