Posted by: cg00n | June 30, 2008

MRI #1

My knee, groin and liver MRI has apparently been split into two parts:  I’ll get my liver cooked later, apparently, because it would make a single appointment too long.

An MRI scanner is like a HUGE front loading washing machine or, looked at another way, an obese CAT scanner but with a smaller orifice; actually, tunnel would be a better word for it.  The object to be scanned (me, in this case) is loaded onto a slightly concave gurney-like thing and the part to be scanned has “coils” positioned above and below.  In the case of my knee the coils consisted of a plastic box roughly 50cm on a side with a 20cm hole punched through it and then bisected.  The two halves were clamped around my knee and connected to the mother machine via a thick cable.  When it came time to do my groin I was encased in what looked like the kind of body armour worn by riot police and then secured to the gurney with large velcro straps.

In both cases, having immobilised me to their satisfaction, everyone else then buggered off next door.  The scanner began with a series of sort of electronic squirrel-like sounds.  Then the gurney-stretcher ground forwards into the MRI’s tunnel.  One half expects to see some massive whirling saw blade approaching while a tinny piano plays frantic sounding music, the lights flicker and no amount of screaming produces any sound.  Exciting though that sounds, reality proved more prosaic.  The tunnel is quite small.  I can see why some people suffer from claustrophobia in the scanner.  It is lit by what appear to be pale green fluorescent lights giving the whole thing the look of something Scotty might be found inside on the Enterprise.

The relatively small areas of me that were being scanned took about 20 minutes each to the tune of some very loud buzzing noises.  Apparently they do provide earplugs; I, forewarned, had brought my own.

After all that they removed my restraints and told me I could go, wishing me a Happy Canada Day as I left.

On Wednesday I’ll see if I can find out when I get to go again:  soon, I hope, because until my liver has been scanned I won’t be talking to the surgeon again and I’d really like to know what else she thinks I have to lose.  Next Tuesday I will be seeing the oncologist who will reveal the results of the ultrasound scan I had last week.  Always something new to look forward to 🙂

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Responses

  1. Do you wonder how you filled your hours before the steady stream of medical tests and appointments?

  2. Sounds just like “the abyss” scene from Hannah and Her Sisters.

  3. You are a brave man! I’d have pretty severe claustrophobia…

  4. There’s a new technique that promises to make MRI scans less claustrophobic (Nature, Feb 19th, 2009).

    Editor’s Summary:
    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v457/n7232/edsumm/e090219-05.html

    Podcast:
    http://www.nature.com/nature/podcast/rss/nature.xml

    Unfortunately the actual paper (http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature07752), and the long editorial on it, are behind a subscription wall. Public research funding ought to be tied to open access, please complain to your elected representatives…

    The scan sounds unpleasant, but the description is wonderful. Like something out of Douglas Adams.


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