Some medical issues and injuries are so clear cut that they require the minimum of diagnostic assistance for your GP or specialist to be able to tell you what’s wrong, and advise you on a course of treatment. Others require a little more digging, such as waiting for results to come back from blood tests or from conventional x-rays. And then there are those that remain a puzzle –everything sinister has been ruled out, various symptoms have been investigated and still you have no answers. You still have symptoms – either painful or just plain inconvenient – and your doctor is completely baffled. The diagnosis, if you choose to leave it there, is ‘just one of those things’.
That’s where an MRI scan might be able to solve your medical puzzle. Whereas a conventional x-ray machine is used largely to look at fractures, an MRI scan can give a very detailed picture of what is going on with soft tissues and internal organs. Unlike x-rays, an MRI scan does not involve radiation, and is completely painless. However, as it works using large magnets, radio waves, and a computer, patients with metal implants and pacemakers will not be able to be scanned. The scan itself can be unpleasant if you suffer from claustrophobia or are sensitive to loud noises, but you can discuss this with the medical team beforehand and you may be offered a sedative. You will be offered headphones to block out the noise of the machine anyway.
An MRI scan is extremely accurate; it not only spots abnormalities such as bone fractures and tumours, it can show areas of internal bleeding, swelling, whether someone has had a stroke or not, and it can even show evidence of some infections. For heart patients, it can give a clear picture of any damage to the heart, and also the state of the surrounding arteries – crucial when deciding a course of treatment, or assessing damage after a heart attack.
The scan can even be used to give a clearer picture on conditions such as IBS, and help to rule out other bowel and digestive disorders which might require surgery or drug therapy. Women presenting with unexplained gynaecological symptoms where ultrasound scans have failed to find any issues may also gain a clearer picture from an MRI scan.
However, the waiting list for an MRI scan can be long, and if there’s still the slightest chance that your medical condition could be or become serious, it is important to help the diagnosis along as quickly as possible. Visiting a private hospital in Sevenoaks to have an MRI scan will make sure that not only do you receive a diagnosis more quickly, but you can arrange any necessary treatment to start as soon as possible.
Even though answers to your medical puzzle won’t cure it instantly, you will at least have the information you need to take the next steps.