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Frequently Asked Imaging Questions

Find answers to frequently asked questions that patients have when preparing for an SSM Health imaging exam, such as an MRI or CT Scan. If you have a question that is not listed here, please contact your physician.

Does an MRI hurt?

Not at all. You have to lie still on a padded table for few minutes, as the table slides slowly into the MRI machine. Depending on the test you’re having, you may also need an injection or intravenous (IV) drip of “dye” or some other contrast material. In either of these cases, you’ll feel a small needle stick.

I’m extra big; will I fit in the MRI machine?

Almost every person—even very large ones— can fit inside the scanner. The opening is 58cm in diameter.

If I have a pacemaker or spinal stimulator, should I get an MRI?

No. If you have a pacemaker or spinal stimulator, notify your doctor and you can be scheduled for an alternative exam that is pacemaker-friendly.

Do I have to drink contrast before my exam?

Certain types of CTs may require you to drink contrast prior to the exam. You will be notified of this upon scheduling your exam.

What if I’m allergic to X-ray contrast “dye”?

MRI contrast solution is completely different from X-ray contrast solution. Most patients will have zero reaction to MRI contrast solution.

What if I am scheduled for an imaging exam and have claustrophobia?

We have a lot of experience helping patients with their anxieties. We’ll do everything we can to make your experience stress-free. We’ll visit with you the whole time. We can even play music (radio, CDs, tapes) if you like. Or we’ll give you ear plugs if you like. We’ll even give you an emergency call button, so you can easily stop your test (if it comes to that). You may also with to speak with your physician about your options. With the largest network of open and large-opening MRIs in the area, SSM Health has the resources to provide you with a convenient, comfortable imaging experience. Your physician also may choose to prescribe you a medication to ease your claustrophobia. This must be arranged through your physician and cannot be provided by our technologists. 

What is EPIC?

EPIC is the electronic health record system utilized by SSM to provide better, more comprehensive care to all of our patients. Your SSM Health physicians can access your medical history, imaging exams, and additional information to provide you with more thorough, quality care.

Why do results go to my doctor instead of directly to me?

SSM Health is committed to the full quality of your care from initial exam through treatment and follow up. Because your doctor is best equipped to answer your questions and address possible concerns, there is greater benefit from direct communication with your doctor about your results. This helps eliminate unnecessary worries, and ensures that, when needed, a plan of action can be immediately put into effect.

What is my risk from radiation exposure?

Most radiologic exams result in minimal and safe exposure to radiation. SSM Health is committed to reducing your exposure by eliminating unnecessary imaging exams and ensuring tests are done properly the first time to avoid repeat testing. Newer, faster CT imaging technology can reduce your exposure by reducing the time of your exam and using each X-ray beam far more efficiently to create the image. It should be noted that MRI and ultrasound technology do not use X-ray-type radiation. Learn more at imagewisely.org and imagegently.org.

What does it mean to be accredited by the ACR?

As an ACR (American College of Radiology) accredited institution, SSM Health is voluntarily reviewed by board-certified radiologists and medical physicists, who are experts in the field of imaging, and found to meet nationally accepted, high practice standards. As an ACR-accredited institution, our team meets or exceeds quality assurance and safety guidelines.

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