Saturday, February 15, 2020

MRI Experience

Was 99% what I expected it to be. Get checked in, change into some scrubs, lay down on the table, get the "Radio Frequency Coil Assembly" (30~50MHz) strapped on, and  the get inserted into the maws of The Mighty MAGNETOM!

I had foam earplugs in, a big rubber bulb "Panic Button", and a "Pneumatic" headset on to listen to music while the big machine cranked through it's routine. The headset was similar to what I'd seen on commercial airliners years ago, where a little "speaker" in the armrest was sealed to a plastic port that your "headphones" plugged into. The "headphones" were just plastic tubing that carried the sound from the armrest mounted speaker to your ears. Very clever, lightweight, and CHEAP. And they consist of nothing conductive, or magnetic, and important consideration when the person wearing them is enclosed by a very powerful, pulsed magnetic field. No long run of wire that could get a voltage induced in it. Same with the squeeze-bulb Panic Button.

Look, Ma...NO Wires!

I didn't think it was all that loud, but then my hearing is shot, I knew what it was doing, and loud "industrial" noises like that don't usually faze me. And seeing as both ends are open, I don't get the "claustrophobic" part of it, but I guess it could be pretty intimidating.

The worst part? It was cold in the room, followed by what they called "Classic Rock" in my music selection wasn't what I'd call Classic Rock. Yeah, I know, a real "First World" problem. The Tech who ran the test gave me a heated blanket, better than 1st class on an overseas flight, and that kept me nice and snug.

Now in a Past Life, I was a Components Engineer for a company called "Searle Diagnostics", formerly "Nuclear Chicago", and they produced Radiological Imaging Units (aka "Gamma Cameras"), and Radiological Immunoassay Units for what used to be called "Nuclear Chemistry" back in the day. And one of our departments was building their first "CAT Scanner", a soon-to-be product line.

Alas for them, they hit some development snags, GE was first-to-market, and the project folded. Searle wound up selling that operation lock-stock-and-barrel to Siemens, who rechristened it "Siemens Gammasonics", the new name indicating they were now into Ultrasound as well as staying in the Nuclear Medicine business.

Where's this going? The mighty MAGNETOM was made by Siemens, and would be the great-great-great-grandchild of the things I watched being built for the first time.

It's kind of like being a Technician for Marconi, and living long enough to see communications satellites in daily use for mundane things.

Or going from points-and-coil ignition and carburetors to  electronic sequential fuel injection and coil-on-plug ignition.

We truly live in amazing times.


  1. Replies
    1. The reults haven't posted to my provider's site yet. My X-Rays were there by the time I got home, but then it was my provider's facility, and they don't use film any longer. It's a big sensor like the Dentist uses, but the size of a regular X-Ray plate. It's digital, so it's available immediately. The MRI results probably have to be interpreted, and then transferred from the imaging company to my provider.

      And it's the weekend.....

  2. Been nearly 20 years since I had one - results inconclusive. What was fun was getting an "echo". An older lady, she said she had done hundreds and, while a cardiologist would make a determination, she didn't see anything unusual. She went on to say, "I am surprised to find a car salesman with a heart".

    1. I had an echocardiogram some years ago.

    2. Last time I had an echocardiogram, I ended up talking about shooting and reloading with the girl who did it. That was a surprise.

      Last time I had an MRI, the music was the local oldies station - top 40 from the 80s and 90s. I could have fallen asleep except for that.

      Hope those results are in real soon! And that nothing needs to get seriously worked on.

    3. I'm not sure what's going on. The hip flared up a couple of weeks ago, and I put it down to the injury from the tumble-down-the-steel-stairs on the ship I was on 12something years ago. I've always thought I had a pinched/damaged nerve, but none of the MD's that have looked at me, then and now, think so.

      But it hurts, something's wrong, it's driving me bonkers, and at least I'm in the process of getting it diagnosed, and hopefully set right.

  3. I'm upset by this. What kind of "classic rock" did they torture you with? I mean to say, it's hard enough being ill without being blasted by Toto.

    Hmmm, not that I dislike "Africa."

    1. The Toto song is about Obama, "I left my brains down in Africa" lyrics were telling.

    2. Well, Parson, they played some old Led Zepplin back-to-back with Hall and Oates.

      Jarring, to say the least.....

    3. Oh my! Cruel but not unusual, annoyingly.

  4. Interesting story about the developments in technology.
    But Dang, waiting for results is a bummer.
    Some stations idea of classic country is not even country.

    1. Yeah, I didn't even stop to think that I had this procedure done at 6PM on a Friday, and Monday is Washington's Birthday. Not sure if the imaging lab is open then.

      It seems to be better today. I think the Ibuprofen is knocking down some inflammation, lessening the "ouch".

  5. The MRI tech thought my mumbled, "Torpedo los!" was amusing.
    Fingers crossed for the future.

    1. I was waiting for Scotty to start playing the pipes when the Photon Torpedo began sliding back into the launcher.....

  6. I had one done a couple years ago.
    We walked out a clinic door up dome steps into a trailer.
    They tow the thing to different clinics.
    Might be like a lease, always getting the newest one without an install.
    Good story about your past experience with them.

    1. Gee....a portable MRI machine!

      Still no word back, and something's wonky with my providers website preventing me from logging in.

  7. Proton (hydrogen) resonance frequency is 42.58 MHz multiplied by field strength in Tesla.

    Glad to hear you weren't bothered by the noise or by claustrophobia. I've spent many hours in an MRI, first as low man on the totem pole (read "self-propelled test dummy, Mark I"), and later as my own test subject for protocols that had not yet received IRB approval. The "cold-pressor test for vasoreactivity" trial run was memorable for the crowd in the control room, judging by the laughter coming through the intercom. It seems that my heart rate shot up from mid-50's to nearly thrice that when I put my foot into the slurry of water and crushed ice. I just remember it being surprisingly painful.

    Hope they figure out what is up with your hip and can set it right soon.

    1. Ahhh...42.58MHz, yes, I remember seeing that in the Siemens literature. I always heard they were full of "Clanging and Banging", but all I heard was the magnets being pulsed. Not much louder than when our microwave kicks to high power. I heard at least 4 distinct patterns, which I think they call "Sequences", and they are quite variable depending on what type of structure they want to image. It's fascinating stuff, and would have been Science Fiction when I was growing up.

      But then so are communications satellites, and I spent a good chunk of my career working on and with those.....

  8. Weird world we live in. Last time I went to the doc after off-site imaging-ish, he was looking at my colonoscopy on his cell phone.

    Weird enough talking about the 'scopy results with him, but having him show me my guts?

    Sometimes the future is a tad too weird for me.

    Now, when they come out with the auto-bladder transporter that teleportationally drains while I sleep so I don't have to do the old-man shuffle once or twice a night, that will truly be a wonderful future.

    And, MRI's, truly amazing, and they've gotten quieter and quieter every generation. Absolutely amazing.

    1. The results are in, and I'm trying to decipher them.....

  9. I just remembered that my wife had a magnetoscan before her last brain surgery.
    I'm sure that's not the term, but I can't recall it.
    Not an MRI, but they read the natural magnetic activity in the brain.
    Long process, in a cold atmosphere, deep in the bowels of the hospital.


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