Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a painless, noninvasive exam that uses a magnet, radiofrequencies, and a computer to obtain detailed still and moving images inside the body in real time. It is designed as a problem-solving tool for nearly any condition in the body, from joint pain and heart problems to cancer and trauma. An MRI scan uses no radiation.
When you have an MRI at GRHealth, you receive care not just from a general radiologist, but one who is board-certified and fellowship-trained and who also specializes in your particular body part. This is an important difference from other hospitals. Together with our experienced radiographers, our radiology subspecialists are highly skilled at obtaining and reading your particular MRI scan and supporting the right diagnosis and treatment plan, the first time.
We specialize in:
- Musculoskeletal MRI: As the region’s only Level-1 trauma center, our advanced MRI examines broken bones and other trauma to the skeleton and muscles.
- Neuroradiology: We are the only center in Georgia outside of Atlanta offering advanced neuro-imaging to diagnose stroke and brain tumors and support spine surgery preplanning.
- Body imaging: We offer advanced imaging for organs and structures in the chest, abdomen, and pelvis.
- Cardiac MRI: We are the only center in Georgia outside of Atlanta that performs advanced cardiac imaging for presurgery or electrophysiology exam planning.
- Women’s health imaging: Working with our Breast Health Center, we screen for breast and pelvic cancers and other disorders.
- Pain management. Under MRI guidance, our radiographers provide steroid and other injections for pain.
Our team also includes an onsite medical physicist whose role is to survey our equipment and ensure that every part is working properly; provide support required to perform and post-process advanced procedures; assess the quality of our MRI images and make any adjustments; and ensure patient safety at all times. This is a unique addition to our center since most facilities use visiting physicists who only survey their equipment at six-month intervals. ^
Consider this: If a 1.5 Tesla MRI is a book, our 3 Tesla machines are an encyclopedia.
Most MRI centers use a 1.5 Tesla machine. At GRHealth, our 3 Tesla MRIs are the most advanced in the region. Advanced equipment means:
- Your imaging times are faster.
- We can image even small parts at the highest resolution, resulting in crisp, highly detailed pictures and more accurate diagnoses.
- We can examine not only your anatomy but also your physiology in real time. For example, we can image your bone structure but also your heartbeat and blood vessel flow as they happen.
- We are able to accurately predict future outcomes, such as tumor growth or the effects of treatment, so that your doctor can better plan for these scenarios.
- We give your surgeon a clear roadmap to plan their approach and reduce the chance of any surprises during surgery. ^
Our MRI center offers several unique factors for the comfort and convenience of our patients.
- Flexible appointments. We offer evening appointments until 8 p.m. and Saturday appointments from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., including a Saturday clinic just for sports injuries.
- Anesthesia. Our anesthesia service can put patients to sleep during the MRI exam. This is ideal for patients with anxiety, those with mental challenges, or children.
- Wider opening. Our 70 cm bore magnet provides the widest opening available for the comfort of larger patients or patients who are claustrophobic, yet still provides high-quality images according to our strict standards.
- Family-friendly. We encourage parents and family members (yes, even with adult patients!) to be in the scanner room with their loved one.
- Control. Patients can speak with radiologists during the exam and stop the exam at any time if they need a break.
- For patients with implants. Many hospitals are not able to scan patients with implants such as pacemakers, vagal nerve stimulators, DBS, or other indwelling devices. We are the only center in Augusta that, in most cases, can work with patients and still scan them with an MRI under these circumstances.
- Reminders. We contact every patient the day before the exam to review their information, answer any questions, and to provide directions. ^
Before Your Exam:
We will contact you the day before your exam to provide directions and review your weight and other information. Tell us if you are claustrophobic and think you will be unable to lie still while inside the scanning machine; if you have a pacemaker inserted or have had heart valves replaced; if you have metal plates, pins, metal implants, surgical staples, or aneurysm clips; if you have permanent eye liner or tattoos; if you are pregnant; if you ever had a bullet wound; or if you have ever worked with metal (i.e., a metal grinder).
Remember that you must remove all jewelry and metal objects, such as hairpins or barrettes, hearing aids, eyeglasses, and dental pieces, before your exam.
During the Exam:
- During an MRI exam, you will lie on a table that slides into a tunnel.
- The MRI staff will be in another room where the scanner controls are located. However, you will be in constant sight of the staff through a window. Speakers inside the scanner will enable the staff to communicate with and hear you. Let the staff know if you have any problems during the procedure. We encourage your family member(s) to stay in the exam room with you.
- During the scanning process, a clicking noise will sound as the magnetic field is created and pulses of radio waves are sent from the scanner. Many patients describe it as sounding like a train. You may be given headphones to wear to help block out the noises from the MRI scanner and hear any messages or instructions from the radiographer.
- It is important that you remain very still during the examination. A typical examination will include multiple individual sequences.
- At intervals, you may be instructed to hold your breath, or not to breathe, for a few seconds, depending on the body part being examined. You will then be told when you can breathe. You should not have to hold your breath for longer than a few seconds, so this should not be uncomfortable.
- The radiographer will be watching you at all times and will be in constant communication.
- You can stop the exam at any time if you feel discomfort or need a break. ^