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When it comes to ordering scans of your body, there are several different options that a doctor may suggest. X-rays, CT scans, and MRI scans are the three most prevalent forms of scan. Each of these can give doctors a better look as to what is going on inside of your body. MRIs are one of the newest forms of technology and help to give a detailed 3D photo of your body’s inner workings. But to further elaborate, let’s take a look at everything you need to know before a knee MRI:

knee MRI

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What is an MRI?

“Magnetic Resonance Imaging” – this is what MRI stands for. A knee MRI uses magnetic fields, radio waves, and a computer to produce a detailed 3D image of the structures within and surrounding your knee. As such, observations that were once only available through surgical incisions, are now available through the help of MRI techniques. In terms of the knee, an MRI will provide detailed images of the bones, cartilage, and tendons within it. It will also help doctors get a closer look at the blood vessels and ligaments within the knee. In comparison with other tests and scans, MRIs can provide the most detailed imaging. Such imaging can then help to diagnose any problems or pain stemming from the knee area.

When is a knee MRI assigned?

As mentioned above, a knee MRI is often used to diagnose or evaluate problems stemming from the knee. A doctor may order a knee MRI when there is any undiagnosed sign of pain, weakness, swelling, or bleeding. MRIs can also help  to diagnose and treat many conditions including bone fractures, injuries, and arthritis. They can also help diagnose infections, tumours, and implant problems. Doctors may also assign MRI’s to assess damage to the cartilage, ligaments, tendons, or meniscus of the knee. In some cases, doctors may also request an MRI before knee surgery.

Who can have a knee MRI?

Knee MRIs are considered to be relatively safe for most people. To date, there are no known side effects of MRIs, and they’re considered to be safer than X-rays and CT scans. Unlike these two scans, MRIs do not emit radiation, therefore making them a safer alternative. MRI’s are even considered safe for pregnant women and children. Having said that, there are some people who could be at risk with an MRI. These include:

  • People with metal implants

If you have any metal implants or pacemakers within your body, it is best to be upfront with your technician. MRIs use strong magnets during the scan that can interfere with pacemakers. In addition, they can cause any metal implants, screws, or pins within the body to shift. For those with metal implants or pacemakers, the doctor may suggest a safer alternative.

  • People with allergic reactions

In some cases a physician will use contrast dyes in an MRI scan. These dyes help to make certain parts of the body stand out from the rest, making images easier to read. Let your doctor know if you have any known allergies. In most cases allergic reactions to such dyes are mild, but in rare cases they can result in anaphylactic reactions. Medications can usually help to control mild allergic reactions to contrasts.

  • Those with claustrophobia

While an MRI scan will not harm those with claustrophobia, it may make them uncomfortable. If you have claustrophobia, your doctor may choose to prescribe you anti-anxiety medications before the scan. Alternatively, they may prescribe a mild sedative to help keep you calm.

Where is a knee MRI performed?

An MRI is generally performed in hospital settings by qualified radiologists and technicians. The test itself is performed in an MRI machine that resembles a narrow cylindrical container. MRI machines are either opened or closed. Open MRI machines are sometimes provided as an alternative to closed MRIs for those who suffer from claustrophobia. Unfortunately, open machines do not provide the same level of details as a closed machine. In terms of the knee, a technician may use a third type of MRI machine know as an Extremity MRI. This type of MRI uses a smaller scanner that’s designed specifically for examining the body’s extremities. Such MRIs are often used on the arms, legs, hands, and feet. They can help to diagnose fractures, arthritis, infections, tumours, injuries, and nerve related issues.

How will a knee MRI feel?

It really won’t feel like anything. MRIs are completely painless. The only form of discomfort you may feel is impatience as the procedure can take upwards of an hour to perform. MRI machines can also produce loud noises that can be uncomfortable on the ears. Most technicians will provide you with headphones to block out the noise.

Why have an MRI performed?

As mentioned above, an MRI is a safe and effective method to diagnose what is happening inside of your body. They are one of the most reliable forms of gaining more information into a persisting condition that has not yet received diagnosis. With the help of an MRI scan, a doctor can better detect what is going on in your knee to help you find a solution that will work.

Hearing your doctor tell you that you need to have an MRI performed can be a scary thing, but it doesn’t necessarily mean bad news. Most people equate such scans with severe issues. But in many situations this is not the case. A knee MRI does not mean that something is horribly wrong. Rather, it is just a means of gaining more insight into what may be causing you pain, inflammation, swelling, or the like. Once you have had the MRI, it will be read by a radiologist. From there, they will send results to your doctor where they can discuss further steps with you.