Call to find out if fMRI is appropriate for you.
Functional magnetic resonance imaging, also known as fMRI, is a non-invasive diagnostic imaging tool that helps our doctors map different areas of the brain. Using an MRI scanner, we can capture thousands of pictures of the brain in order to pinpoint the locations of the brain’s most essential functions such as movement, language and memory. fMRI plots these functions by detecting changes in blood flow and oxygen levels while the patient is asked to answer a series of questions and perform tasks that use specific brain functions.
Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center in Charlotte, N.C., is one of the first hospitals in the area to offer clinical fMRI including the advanced 3 Tesla Magnet (3T Magnet), which provides high-quality, detailed images of the brain.
For Your Safety
Please notify your doctor or the technologist performing the exam if:
- You have allergies of any kind, such as allergy to iodine or X-ray contrast material, drugs, food, the environment, or asthma
- There is any possibility that you are pregnant
- You have serious health problems or have recently had surgery
Please also notify your doctor or the technologists performing the exam if you have any of the following:
- A cardiac pacemaker
- Eye implants or metal ear
- Penile implants
- Shrapnel or non-removed bullet implants activated electronically
- Aneurysm clips
- Any metal implants anyplace in your body
Some MRI exams require patients to consume a contrast material (either by mouth or IV) in order to create a better image. If you have allergies or asthma and your fMRI scan requires a contrast material, there is a slight risk of an allergic reaction to the material. Most reactions result in itchiness or hives. For individuals with asthma who are allergic, the reaction can be an asthma attack. In very rare instances, an allergic reaction may cause swelling in your throat or other areas of your body. Diabetes, heart disease, kidney problems or thyroid conditions also increase your risk of reaction to the contrast material. Immediately tell your technologist or doctor if you experience any of these symptoms during or after your exam. Our staff and physicians are prepared should any type of emergency situation occur.
Preparing for an fMRI Exam
The scanner is a highly sensitive magnetic device. To avoid possible injury and to ensure the highest degree of accuracy, it is important that you:
- Remove all metal, including jewelry, hair ornaments, watches, studs and coins
- Remove all makeup prior to the exam
- Avoid drinking coffee or large volumes of fluid prior to your scan
- An fMRI requires participants to lie inside a scanner for up to 1.5 hours. Let your physician know if you feel uncomfortable or claustrophobic in a small space.
You may continue to take regular medications.
What to Expect During an fMRI Exam
You will be positioned on the moveable examination table and your head may be placed in a brace with a mask designed specifically for you to help you keep still. You may also be given goggles and/or earphones during the scan so audio-visual stimuli may be administered during the scan.
If a contrast material will be used in the MRI exam, a nurse or technologist will insert an IV line into a vein in your hand or arm. When the contrast material is injected, it is normal to feel a cool sensation for a few minutes.
You will be asked to complete a number of small tasks, such as tapping your thumb against each of the fingers on the same hand, rubbing a block of sandpaper, or answering simple questions.
When the examination is complete, your IV will be removed and you may be asked to wait until the technologist or radiologist checks the images in case additional images are needed.
The entire examination is usually finished within 45 minutes. No recovery period is necessary if you have not been sedated. You may resume your usual activities and normal diet immediately after the exam.
A radiologist will review your exam images and report the findings to your doctor. Your doctor will then discuss the findings and next steps with you.