The Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide
Diagnostic Tests - MRI of the Spine
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How do I prepare for the test?

  • Tell your doctor if you have a pacemaker, artificial hip, or any metal pins, plates, screws, or surgical staples. The magnet used in an MRI is so strong that it can interfere with pacemakers and pull on some metal objects implanted in the body. If you know you have an implant, or are concerned, discuss the issue with your doctor, as other options may exist. (Some pacemakers, for example, can be reprogrammed prior to an MRI so that they are not disrupted.)

    An IV is inserted into a vein if the particular scan you're having requires a dye to make areas of inflammation or abnormality easier to detect. This dye is called gadolinium, and is different from the contrast dye used for x-rays or CT scans. Before undergoing the scan, remove metal objects such as belt buckles or watches, which could dislodge in the presence of the magnet and hurt you.

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