Elaine Explains… MRI, MRA and Mulberry House

(plus Endocrine… but it was ruining my alliteration :p)

Duh duh duh… so, this is a mixed blog post…. since it’s the first time Angel has had an MRI scan at the same time as an MRA scan. We’ll incorporate it to be an explanation post at the same time. MRI takes the scan of your whole body… and the MRA is used to take generate images of your arteries (in order to evaluate abnormal narrowing or risks of rupture etc)

(See FAQ’s at the bottom of the page!)

Angel’s condition means she suffers with severe mood swings, sensory overload… and unless you spend a whole day with her, a lot of people don’t realize the extreme differences in her moods (i.e. when she can be nasty/violent) Her teachers have probably not seen this side to her, nor have people she meets on a one off. Due to the location of her tumour (it’s squishing her purity gland) she will always struggle and have issues with this.

She went for her MRA and MRA (appointment… we were told would be half an hour)… an hour later there is still no sign of Angel… we were sitting thinking uh oh what’s wrong…. but were then told they couldn’t find Angel’s vein) .. as it turns out… not only are Angel’s veins very fine, they are also curved!

Sooo… they couldn’t get the line in for the contrast… so they had to send for a Doctor… who couldn’t get it in… another member of staff attempted to get a line in… in HER FEET… no less…. but unfortunately her veins were still playing hide and seek and they ended up popping two veins. Yergh!

In the end… after an hour and ten minutes they found one! woo hoo… all that was left was to wait for the results (which would have been three hours later for our American friends… we know over there you have to wait weeks for your results!!)

MRI scan showed us: 

At least stable disease 

There is a suggestion that the solid component of her tumour is smaller which is very encouraging (yayyyyy) 

MRA… results pending… (this has to be studied in more depth and we’re still waiting to hear from them)

We then saw Doctor Didi who was very impressed….

He was happy with her weight loss (she is now down to 46.3kg.

He was concerned about her tiredness, and suggested another day in to get her levels checked (cortisol curve)

Since Angel’s had proton beam therapy she can’t go in the sun like she used to… she doesn’t like the glare in her eyes and has to wear a hat all the time.

What is a MRI Scan?

An MRI ( magnetic resonance imaging) scan is a radiology technique that uses magnetism, radio waves, and a computer to produce images of body structures. The MRI scanner is a tube surrounded by a giant circular magnet. Angel is placed on a moveable bed that is inserted into the magnet. The magnet creates a strong magnetic field that aligns the protons of hydrogen atoms, which are then exposed to a beam of radio waves. This spins the various protons of the body, and they produce a faint signal that is detected by the receiver portion of the MRI scanner. The receiver information is processed by a computer, and an image is produced.

Do MRI scans use electricity?

Ummm do you mean inside the machine? Obviously it’s plugged in.. but MRI scanning uses magnetism, radio waves, and a computer to produce images of body structures. Hope that answers?

Does the MRI scan hurt?

No, not at all. The scanning part is painless and doesn’t even involve x-ray radiation.

Is there anything special she has to do before she has an MRI?

Anything with metal has to come off… this means no earings, and for example no shellac nail varnish etc! Patients with heart pacemakers, metal implants, or metal chips or clips in or around the eyes cannot be scanned with MRI because of the effect of the magnet.

The image and resolution produced by MRI is quite detailed and can detect tiny changes of structures within the body. For some procedures, contrast agents, such as gadolinium, are used to increase the accuracy of the images.

Why does Angel have to have MRI scans?

An MRI scan can be used as an extremely accurate method of disease detection throughout the body and is most often used after the other testing fails to provide sufficient information to confirm a patient’s diagnosis. In the head, trauma to the brain can be seen as bleeding or swelling. Other abnormalities often found include brain aneurysms, stroke, tumors of the brain, as well as tumors or inflammation of the spine.

Neurosurgeons use an MRI scan not only in defining brain anatomy but in evaluating the integrity of the spinal cord after trauma. It is also used when considering problems associated with the vertebrae or intervertebral discs of the spine. An MRI scan can evaluate the structure of the heart where it can detect aneurysms or tears. MRI scans are not the first line of imaging test for these issues or in cases of trauma.

It provides valuable information on glands and organs within the abdomen, and accurate information about the structure of the joints, soft tissues, and bones of the body. Often, surgery can be deferred or more accurately directed after knowing the results of an MRI scan.

What is an MRA Scan?

Magnetic Resonance angiogram A magnetic resonance angiogram (MRA) is a type of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scant that uses a magnetic field and pulses of radio wave energy to provide pictures of blood vessels inside the body


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