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Clinical Addictions Research Laboratory

Information About functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI)

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a relatively new procedure that uses radio waves and a strong magnetic field rather than x-rays to provide clear and detailed pictures of internal organs and tissues. The functional version (fMRI) identifies the parts of the brain where blood vessels are expanding, chemicals are changing, or extra oxygen is being delivered as the brain processes information and sends commands to the body. fMRI scanning has recently become a very common tool utilized in the medical field to assess injuries and functions of bodily organs. Most individuals can have an fMRI scan as there are no side effects to the procedure. As fMRI uses a strong magnetic field, however, there are potential dangers that should be avoided. If you have a cardiac pacemaker, you should not have an fMRI scan as it can be fatal.

Other devices/conditions that may make fMRI scanning dangerous:

Aneurysm clips in the brain
Neurostimulators
Heart valves
Metal implants
Drug infusion devices/pumps
Ear implants
Inferior vena cava filters
Metal objects in the eyes
Surgical staples or wires
Bone or joint replacements
Metal plates, rods, pins, or screws
Contraceptive diaphragms or coils
Permanent dentures
Penile implants
Shrapnel
Vascular coils and filters
Pregnancy

If you have any of the above devices or conditions, it MAY BE DANGEROUS for you to have an fMRI scan. Be sure to make the SSBI staff aware of any of the above items prior to scanning procedures. While tooth fillings and braces are not affected by the scanner, they could distort images of the facial area or brain, so the technician should be made aware of them. You will also be asked to remove anything that may degrade images of the head, such as hairpins, jewelry, eyeglasses, hearing aids, and any removable dental work.

During the scan, you will be asked to wear a hospital gown and lie on a sliding table. Your head will be placed in a brace designed to help hold the head still and then you will be moved into the main cylindrical bore of the machine. Your eyes will be fitted with a pair of goggles so that you can view the study images and your hands will be adjusted to keypads so that you can provide responses to questions throughout the scanning procedure. It is important that you remain still for the few consecutive minutes of each run as any small movement may distort the image that the scan provides. For your comfort and safety, you will be able to communicate with a technician the entire time.

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