Four years ago, Santa gave me the worst Christmas present I'd ever received.
The day after the most joyous holiday of the year, my doctor called and
delivered the news that I had prostate cancer.
Because my dad had prostate cancer decades before, I had been going to a
urologist since I turned 40 to have a PSA [prostate-specific antigen test].
Recently, my PSA had shot up very high, to 29, and the following biopsy
confirmed that I had a highly aggressive tumor. At 50 years old, I faced the
Some conditions may make an MRI examination not a good idea. Tell your doctor if you have any of the following conditions:
Cerebral aneurysm clip (metal clip on a blood vessel in the brain)
Implanted insulin pump (for treatment of diabetes), narcotics pump (for pain medication), or implanted nerve stimulators (TENS) for back pain
Metal in the eye or eye socket
Cochlear (ear) implant for hearing impairment
Implanted spine stabilization rods
Severe lung disease (such as tracheomalacia or bronchopulmonary dysplasia)
Severe acid reflux
Weight of more than 300 pounds
Not being able to lie on back for 30 to 60 minutes
Claustrophobia (fear of closed or narrow spaces)
How Long Is the MRI Exam?
Allow 1 1/2 hours for your MRI exam. In most cases, the procedure takes 45 to 60 minutes, during which several dozen images may be taken.
What Happens Before the Exam?
Personal items such as your watch, wallet (including any credit cards with magnetic strips – should not be brought into the room with the MRI machine in it.The credit cards will be erased by the magnet), and jewelry should be left at home, or removed prior to the MRI scan. Secured lockers should be available to store personal items.
What Happens During the Exam?
You will be asked to wear a hospital gown during the MRI scan.
As the MRI scan begins, you will hear the equipment making a muffled thumping sound, which will last for several minutes. Other than the sound, you should notice no unusual sensations during the scanning.
Certain MRI exams require an injection of a dye (contrast material). This helps identify certain anatomic structures on the scan images.
Before the exam, feel free to ask questions and tell the technician or doctor if you have any concerns.
People who get anxious when in tight spaces (claustrophobic) may benefit from talking to their doctor before the procedure. Some options include taking a prescription medication before the procedure to relieve anxiety or having the exam done in one of the newer and less confining MRI units, called an open MRI, when available.
What Happens After the Exam?
You should be able to resume your usual activities immediately. Your doctor will discuss the test results with you.