Q: How safe are MRI's and if you have had one within a 8 year period, would it be safe to have another one. For back pain is there an alternate exam instead of the MRI?


A:   The MRI is a non invasive imaging procedure, the best choice in the assessment of spine, shoulder and knees. An MRI scan is a commonly performed and safe procedure. For most people, the potential benefit is greater than the disadvantages. However, in order to make a well-informed decision and give your consent, you need to be aware of the possible side-effects and the risk of complications. Side-effects are the unwanted but mostly temporary effects of a successful procedure. The MRI scan itself does not usually have any physical side-effects. However, if a contrast medium is used, you may experience a temporary flushing when you are given the injection. This usually passes within seconds. People who have metal fillings in their teeth may also feel a tingling during the scan.
Complications are unexpected problems that can occur during or after the procedure. Most people are not affected. Complications that may arise from an MRI scan are related to the contrast medium, and include an allergic reaction to the dye. Different people may have different reactions to the dye - let the radiographer know if you feel uncomfortable or are short of breath during the scan. Allergic reactions happen only occasionally and can be treated immediately with appropriate medicines.

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