Long-Term Care

Preparing a resident for an MRI

LTC Nursing Assistant Trainer, February 9, 2012

Occasionally, a facility must send a resident to a hospital or diagnostic center for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). This is an excellent diagnostic tool. Nursing personnel must prepare the resident before the test. Preparation involves making sure that the resident has no contraindications—a condition that causes a treatment or procedure to not be recommended—and checking to make sure that metallic devices do not interfere with the procedure. Some contraindicated items may surprise you. Contraindications for the MRI may vary greatly by the area of the body scanned.

Here are some key points to remember:

  • The MRI causes a strong magnetic field. Ferromagnetic objects may be pulled into the field at high speed, causing injury to the resident. Because of the potential for injury, metallic jewelry and other items should be removed from the outside of the body before the scan.
  • Notify the MRI center in advance if the resident has an implanted metallic object from a previous surgery, diagnostic test, treatment, or injury. Some of these items may be safely scanned, but typically, the MRI center must research the resident’s history before scheduling the test.
  • A pacemaker can never be scanned safely. Contact the attending physician about an alternate type of diagnostic study.
  • Residents with implanted medication pumps usually can be safely scanned. However, you must notify the MRI center of the type of pump, location, and serial number.
  • Some transdermal medication patches contain metal and have the potential to cause pain, burns, blisters, and other injuries when exposed to a magnetic field.

This is an excerpt from the HCPro book, The Long-Term Care Nursing Desk Reference, Second Edition, by Barbara Acello, MS, RN.

Most Popular