Shields Health Care Group Blog

Five questions you should ask BEFORE your MRI.

Posted by John Geiger

5_questions.pngWhen you doctor tells you that you’ll need an MRI scan, you’ll likely have a few questions on your mind. However, are they the right ones? Shields MRI, the largest MRI network in New England, shares the five questions you SHOULD be asking when your doctor recommends an MRI. 

  1. What is the strength of the machine? 
    The strength of an MRI is important because it will define the clarity of the picture taken and the time of the exam.  At Shields MRI we offer only high-field 1.5T and 3T high-field MRI machines because of their exceptional quality.  The difference between the two is the strength of the magnet used in the machine; the “T” stands for Tesla, which is the standard unit to measure magnet field strength. The 1.5T machine is considered to be the gold standard for MRI in a clinical setting and is ideal for most MRI scans as it produces higher quality images in less time than the lower strength machines. The 3T is the newest and most powerful MRI available to patients. While the 3T will produce more detailed images than the 1.5T machine, the 3T is not always necessary and is best used for imaging small bones, dense tissue and other instances where minute details are especially crucial.

    Some healthcare providers will offer lower strength machines like 1.2T, 1.0T or even as low as a .07T. Many radiologists are not able to interpret scans as well on these MRI machines and most physicians prefer the more defined images of a 1.5T and 3T. For more information on the comparisons between these machines, click here.

    Dr. Stephen Sweriduk, Medical Director at Shields says, “Scanning patients on a high-field 1.5T MRI machine results in superior image quality and improved diagnostic confidence compared to the results obtained on a mid-field 1.2T system. Faster imaging time and a wide-bore design leads to increased patient comfort and satisfaction.” His recommendation for both the physician who requests the MRI exam and for patient comfort is the 1.5T or 3T MRI machines.
  2. Is it a wide-bore? 
    If tight spaces make you uncomfortable this is a question you will certainly want to ask. For some prone to claustrophobia, a standard-bore MRI machine can be concerning. For our patients to feel more comfortable we offer a “wide-bore” option in most locations in the Shields network. “Wide-bore” MRI machines have wide openings and a short bore, so patients getting scanned below the chest can be scanned with their head out of the machine. Within the Shields network there are 17 locations that offer high-field, wide-bore MRI machines. This includes two advanced 3T wide-bore MRIs. True open MRI machines (open on three sides) are not available in high-field strengths of 1.5T or 3T; Shields believes that image quality should not be compromised scanning on a lower strength system. Our wide-bore machines have the most headroom available – even more than a true open if you can believe it! Most patients who suffer from claustrophobia or have a large frame are able to make it through the scan with no challenges at all and our staff is exceptionally helpful in making all of our patients comfortable. You can find a location with wide-bore MRI machines here.
  3. How much will this cost?
    MRI pricing can vary widely throughout the state and it can be very confusing how to go about getting the best value. At Shields, we try to simplify our pricing information so you can focus on what’s important – your health.  We can provide you an estimated price of your scan in a quick, two minute phone call or for an immediate estimate, check our savings calculator to see how much you can save! 

    You may have heard that Shields is lower cost than other providers. Our patients may save as much as 60% compared to non-partnering hospital imaging services. How does that happen? It is our mission to offer the best service at the best price. Our focus on imaging means more efficiency, and this translates into savings for you! We encourage you to compare our value to other providers through our helpful MRI shopping tool.  

    You can trust that Shields isn’t just about low cost, it’s about the best value. The professional athletes trust us with their care and that speaks volumes about our quality. You know you are getting the very highest quality, at an affordable price.
  4. How long will it take for my doctor to get my results?
    Getting your results quickly can greatly impact your course of treatment. Through Shields Express Link your images and reports are available online for your physician within an average of 24-48 hours. Shields works hand in hand with your physician to provide a detailed report that accompany the image and collaborate with them to confirm findings and diagnosis. At Shields, we prioritize not only getting your results quickly, but scheduling your appointment quickly by offering same or next day appointments. We are pros at getting our patients scanned and their reports delivered fast – after all, the Patriots, Bruins & Celtics wouldn’t wait for a scan, why should you?
  5. Do you have sub-specialized radiologists?
    The physician who is reading your MRI scan is often determining your course of treatment. It is extremely important that your radiologist is experienced. Shields Radiologists are renowned to be among the best in the country and are often sought out by the leading hospitals in New England to read their MRI scans (or even re-read one for confirmation!) Our highly skilled physicians often have several certifications in multiple sub-specialties, meaning that they specialize in one specific scan category such as orthopedics or neurology. Our radiology team also participate in cutting-edge clinical trials for top medical facilities. Shields clinical team of technologists and staff Shields employee is dedicated to performing the best imaging exams while keeping patients comfortable and relaxed.

Let's face it, no one wants to get an MRI, but if you do have to have one, we want you to be armed with the information and education you need to receive the best care. If you have any questions about an MRI, what to expect, price, technology, results or anything else related to your care and treatment, please feel free to contact Shields MRI. 

Tags: mri, 1.5T MRI, 3T MRI, MRI technology, open MRI