What’s All That Banging?!

I’ve been having lots of odd physical symptoms.  I wrote about them here.  I still don’t know what is going on but they haven’t become any more severe and I am calmer about it now.  I still want to know what is causing them.  I would rather not have them.

Recently I had 2 MRI’s.  Have you had one?  They are pretty stressful even if you are not claustrophobic.  You have to hold perfectly still in a tube for a long time while VERY loud vibrations, tones, bangs, and clanking sounds happen all around you.  The tube is narrow plus they put a cage around the area they are taking pictures of.  I also had contrast which means they inject gadolinium into your vein for the last few series of images which enhances certain types of tissue.  I had one of my neck and one of my brain.  During the first one I had a mini panic attack.  My heart was racing and I had to talk myself through it.  They have you wear ear protection but the crazy clanking noises kept startling me over and over.  You must also hold perfectly still during the procedure which for me was about 45 minutes.  The second scan of my brain was better.  This time they gave me foam ear plugs PLUS ear muffs and I took a, Ativan which ever so slightly took the edge off.

Do you know how an MRI works?  Unlike a CAT scan, which used radiation, an MRI uses magnets so it SHOULD be safer.  After having these scans, I wanted to learn more about them.  I really wanted to find out what causes all that banging!  I found a very good explanation from this New York Times Q&A.

The primary magnet used in an MRI is 60,000 times stronger than the earth’s pull!  Electricity is used to activated the magnet which is made up of coiled wire.  The nuclei in your hydrogen atoms line up with this strong magnet.  Radio pulses are used to cause the nuclei in your hydrogen atoms to momentarily change direction.  Then smaller gradient magnets focus the magnetic field and pick up these signals from your hydrogen atoms.  The atoms return to their previous position at different rates for different tissues and from this an image can be generated using math.  A byproduct of the electric current that creates the magnetic pull are loud vibrations (which can be as loud as a rock concert)!  The gradient magnets pulse at varying strengths that is why you can hear a variety of thumping.

Here is a short video that explains it better than I can…

It’s a pretty amazing technology, don’t you think?!

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Ann

I'm a practical mom inspired by nature & I enjoy sharing ideas that encourage kids' innate curiosity & creativity. Interested in subscribing? Check out the blue box at the top of my sidebar. I'm also a wannabe author/illustrator & product designer by day. Let's connect! doodlesandjots@hotmail.com. If you purchase through my Amazon links I get a small commission at no additional cost to you (thanks for supporting Doodles and Jots)! And remember to always credit your source here & elsewhere on the internet.

26 comments

  1. Oh I hope you get some answers soon. I did have an MRI once, for my knee, and other than the noise, I was so afraid of moving accidentally. That was the worst part — trying to keep my knee completely still for so long.
    It amazes me that someone was able to think up the idea for using magnets to get images — very cool!
    twisterfish recently posted..Jane is 17My Profile

    • Thanks.

      Holding still is stressful. I noticed when each picture was through I had to take a deep breath.

      Very cool!

    • Thanks Larissa. I think once you make it through childbirth you become super human and can go through anything.

  2. Unfortunately I am well versed in MRI’s as my hubby had them often. He eventually got used to it and the “banging”. My dad had one last week and his only complaint was having to remove his metal “bridge” in his mouth. I hope you get your answers soon my friend. Thanks for explaining the process. It will help people I am sure.. All the best to you!
    Winnie recently posted..Coquito Celebration TagsMy Profile

  3. Wow- that is some crazy stuff. I can’t believe the strength of the magnet- you think about how medical procedures like this will evolve, and how MRI’s will probably be replaced by much more sophisticated processes in the future. I’m so sorry you have to go through all this crap. I hope it will go away soon and you can feel 100%. Sending love.
    Artchoo recently posted..Just a Few Glittery Paper OrnamentsMy Profile

  4. My question is, “why didn’t they warn you about and/or better prepare you for the terrible banging?”

    It is amazing technology – in some ways similar to the ways my husband gets the data he uses to look beneath the Earth’s surface for oil and natural gas!
    Elisa | blissfulE recently posted..David’s favourite toyMy Profile

  5. My oldest had an MRI for her foot (which didn’t end up showing any abnormality) and I held her hand the entire time. It IS noisy and scary but I’m glad there isn’t any radiation like an X-Ray (She had that too).

    I’m glad you are getting to the bottom of your symptoms. I hope all is well. When I am in stressful situations and have mini panic attacks, I try to focus on deep breathing … the yoga helps to keep me calm. It’s the same idea for childbirth. Deep breath through the nose, deep breath out through the nose. Try that the next time you are in a claustrophobic situation. So sorry you are going through all this.
    PragmaticMom recently posted..Entrepreneurship 101 for Kids: Failure IS an Option (but that’s OK!)My Profile

  6. SOUNDS LIKE THE MRI WAS CREATED AT MIT. YOUR EXPLANATION OF HOW IT REVEALS DIFFERENT TYPES OF TISSUE IS SIMPLE AND UNDERSTANDABLE BUT I THINK THE MINDS THAT PUT THE LAWS OF SCIENCE AND MATH TO WORK BY CREATING PRACTICAL THINGS LIKE THIS DIAGNOSTIC TOOL ARE AWESOME AND THE EDUCATION THAT PREPARES THEM MUST BE A LONG ROAD THAT BEGINS AND CONTINUES WITH WONDERFUL TEACHERS. I THINK MOST OR NEARLY ALL CHILDREN ARE CAPABLE OF TRAVELING THAT ROAD IF THEY HAVE GOOD TEACHERS. NOT EVERY CHILD’S INTERESTS OR DISPOSITION ARE IN THAT DIRECTION BUT ALL ARE CAPABLE OF IT WITH EXCELLENT TEACHERS AT EVERY LEVEL.

  7. I hope you find out soon Ann. I’ve been thinking about you and wondering how you were doing. I haven’t had an MRI but did have a CAT scan after a really bad fall and pounding my head on tile. It sounds very anxiety producing. It helps me also to learn more about what’s happening, I can see that in you too.

    Take care…
    Tania recently posted..Take A Picture…PaperMy Profile

  8. I am also hoping for you that you get answers soon. Wishing you much luck through all of this!

    Fascinating info! We are lucky to live in these technologically advanced times.
    Krista recently posted..ThankfulMy Profile

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