a series of motorized and non-motorized bike accidents, and some
imperfect snowboarding, it's no wonder that my lower lumbar vertebrae
are messed up. But finding out exactly what the cause is still has
some mystery attached to it. So far, I've been to chiropractors,
physical therapists, massage therapists and general practitioners,
each of which has provided some additional explanations at to what's
up. I've also been exposed to a string of x-ray photography and
a ct scan. But until today, I haven't been rolled into a giant
magnetic cavity and zapped with radio waves tuned to resonate
the water molecules throughout my thorax.
It took about twenty minutes. After a short quiz about metal in
my body: do you have metal plates in you head? a pacemaker? hearing
aids? dentures? metal rods tying bones together? shrapnel? (really)
I divested myself of all other metals: phone, coins, keys, gun,
mace, belt, etc. I then laid down on an expensive looking conveyer
and pulled my pants down to my knees (the zipper).
The nurse gave me ear plugs and warned me that things would be loud.
My platform slowly wheeled into the magnetic cavity, where the clicking
got progressively louder. I was imagining a parallel with 2001 or
happening here. Once the energy started, it felt more like tron,
with a bit of vietnam sniper fire thrown in on the side. The magnetic
field and the energy are designed to fire the protons of your water
molecules into a high energy orbit; once they calm down, the emit
their own energy waves back. Essentially, you turn into a neon tube,
except the energy you emit, disappointingly, doesn't cause you to
light up at all. And the nurse was right. It was very loud indeed.
And it causes you to heat up. In fact, its a bit like a tanning
bed: you get internally warmed to the point of feeling a little
sick. However, in the case of mri, you don't develop a tan afterwards.
And rather than costing $30 for a month of sessions, it costs $1000
for a single session. Plus you have a much longer waiting list.
Most of the cost comes from the expense of the equipment: a massive
general electric electromagnet, a silicon graphics octane workstation
with a 20" flatscreen monitor to run it, and related photographic
gear. Plus, they have to truck in liquid nitrogen to keep the thing
cool enough. A chilly 452.4 degrees below zero, actually, in order
to keep the windings of the mysteriously clicking magnet super conductive
enough to generate a 1-2 tesla magnetic field. With that sort of
magnet, pens and keys become projectile weapons, explaining the
metal quiz and frisk earlier.
All in all, given the price, I can't recommend mri unless you really
need it. Save your money and go to a movie instead.
More information on mri, being a magnet and tron:
to be a people magnet
basic principles and applications
of medical imaging