Wednesday, 24 July 2013

What's a Jaw MRI Like?

The other day I had a jaw MRI. I've had jaw pain for quite a bit now, but I didn't think much of it: I thought was clenching my jaw due to stress. The pain has been getting worse, so I brought it up with my doctor. He sent me right away for a jaw MRI and I will be seeing him in a few weeks. I went to Google what a jaw MRI will be like but found very little. So, I thought it would be helpful to others to share my experience.

First off, I always bring pyjamas with me. I like my own way more than the silly gowns they give you. Since the machine picks up on metal, it's important nothing you're wearing contains metal. Dental braces and such are fine, just let the technician know. The technician went over a few things and we headed into the MRI room. Some people may get an IV line at this point.

He helped me on the table and gave me a cushion for my legs and a warm blanket since it was a bit cold. I was given headphones to listen to music, but I also could have used ear plugs if I didn't want to listen to music. In the past I have brought CDs with me and they would play those. If you are going to listen to music, make sure the volume is a bit high: the scanner makes noises and it may be hard to hear. The tech then put a coil around my head. More or less, it's like a plastic cage that slides over your face. There are holes in it so you can see through and it shouldn't touch you. I was also given a button to hold, and if I pressed it the techs would know if there was an emergency or if I needed help. Then the bed was raised and was positioned, and into the machine I went.

The MRI machine you get depends on where you go. Sometimes they're open, and I've had one like that when I was about eight. Many are like a big circle with its center cut out. It may look a bit intimidating but it's not. The machine is open on either end, so you will never be trapped. Obviously since my jaw was being scanned, my head was in the machine. This may feel quite uncomfortable,
but try to relax. I closed my eyes, took deep breathes and focused on the music. I had to keep my jaw still, and I noticed this was quite uncomfortable after a bit. I was able to swallow during the scan: it is almost impossible to stop that reflex and I was never told I couldn't during the scan. Of course, everyone's case is different. That first bit was over after about twenty minutes.

 The table was slid from the machine and the tech gave me a syringe and asked me to bite down on it. He assured me it wouldn't take too long, as only few pictures are taken like that. I'm not going to lie; that part was the worse. I tried to relax and try to imagine I was somewhere else, and that did help. The last few minutes where the worst for me because I had a hard time swallowing as well as having a painful jaw. Thankfully that was quick and the tech reassured me through the headphones that that part was done. He came in and fished the syringe out of the coil, which was quite amusing.

The last part was with a contrast dye. Some people get it, some people don't. Some people will get it through an IV and others won't. I got it through a needle, into a vein in my arm. The tech told me I might get a cold feeling in my arm or a metallic taste in my mouth (I got neither). He slowly injected the contrast, which is clear. It didn't take too long and I was slid back in for the last set of pictures. That only took about fifteen minutes and then I was done. The tech took the coil off and set the bed low, and I got to change and go.

MRIs aren't too difficult: it's just staying still is boring, and it's uncomfortable to be enclosed sometimes. Just know that the tech is watching at all times and its a relatively safe test. If you are terribly nervous, some places allow you to bring someone with you into the room. Just ask, almost all the time they will let them come in too.

2 comments:

  1. When I got my first MRI, I was so scared and nervous, but I found that it wasn't a huge deal. It was very uncomfortable because of the position they had me in (basically a Superman pose, the MRI was for my wrists), and the noise gave me a headache. But surprisingly, I didn't have a problem with claustrophobia, even though I went in headfirst and it was closed. I just shut my eyes and listened to the music they gave me which was The Wedding March on repeat. I laugh about that now. Out of all the music...

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    1. I did a CAT scan in superman pose, but that's nothing compared to an MRI. I can only imagine how that felt.

      The Wedding March on repeat... I would've gone insane. Haha. :)

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