Did your doctor recommend a Knee MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) recently? Are you wondering how long does a knee MRI take so that you can fix your schedule accordingly for the day?
What do you think I’m here for?
Although the answer to your question is subjective and may vary depending on how clear the images come and when the in-detailed MRI visual can pinpoint the hidden abnormality, I can share my experience in this regard!
Overview: What Is A Knee MRI and How Does It Work?
A Knee MRI is the diagnostic process where powerful magnets alongside computer-generated radio waves lay utilized to create cross-sectional visuals of your internal knee anatomy and its surrounding areas. It is a non-invasive process, and trust me, I have felt no pain during this scan.
Although it was too noisy, and I felt anxious inside that semi-circular donut-shaped machine, closing my eyes and diverting my mind to my special moments in life gave me relief.
You can also try using eye masks and ear cuffs to calm yourself. In fact, healthcare providers offer sheets to cover yourself up during the scan. It can make you feel comfortable, as if you are in your own bed, and reduce your anxiety and apprehension!
Once the scanning starts, the magnets attached to the walls of the scanner induce certain atomic nuclei in your knee to move out of position. These nuclei can readily absorb radio-frequency energy in the presence of a strong magnetic field. As that happens, the radio waves can send signals to the computer console and generate images of your knee.
No requirement for radiation like other imaging tests, such as a CT or X-ray, and therefore, no further health complications!
My Knee MRI report entailed a detailed layout of the bones, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, muscles, and blood vessels. So will it for you too!
When Do Doctors Recommend A Knee MRI?
My doctor suspected an abnormality in my knee joint, but she wasn’t sure what exactly it could be! Perhaps, the symptoms I was having, like severe and persistent knee pain, problems walking, and a tingling sensation near the joint, can appear for various reasons. They are –
- Bone fractures,
- Infections in the knee bone or surrounding area,
- Fluid collection in the knee,
- Tumors (benign or malignant),
- Damages in the cartilage, tendons, meniscus, or ligament in the knee,
- Breakdown of the kneecap cartilage (called chondromalacia),
- Inflammation in the knee tendons,
- Sports-related knee injury,
- Traumatic knee injury,
- Issues with implanted knee plates,
- Decreasing motion of the knee joint,
- Dead Bone,
- Bleeding in the tissues in or around the knee joint,
- Trauma after knee surgery,
- Metastatic knee joints, and
- Other degenerative joint disorders.
Mine was a sported-related knee injury, and the knee tendons got torn! The MRI scan was able to diagnose it rightly and allow my doctor to start a suitable treatment course on an immediate basis!
How Accurate Is a Knee MRI?
While the accuracy of a knee MRI lay concerned, I must begin by saying that no scan can be 100 percent accurate, no matter which technique it follows.
However, an MRI scan holds greater accuracy in screening complex diseases of your knee than other imaging studies. It can pinpoint cancerous growth in or around the knee at its earliest. An MRI can precisely identify an inflammation or fluid buildup near your knee.
According to the National Institute For Biotechnology Information, which we call, NCBI in short, an MRI technique is about 83% accurate in diagnosing tears in the medial meniscus of your knee. They also state that MRI scans hold nearly 95.45% sensitivity and 91.67% specificity in screening damage to the anterior cruciate ligament (the ligament stabilizing the knee joints).
Some studies reveal that a knee MRI can detect damage in the soft tissues of your knee with 78 to 100 percent sensitivity. Recent research in Sage Publications demonstrates that a Knee MRI reserves nearly 58 to 97% sensitivity in diagnosing osteoarthritis.
How to Prepare For a Knee MRI?
Well, if you are keen to know how to prepare for your MRI scan, I must say there is no such special preparation you need. Yet, I would suggest you speak with your doctor once!
What I did, as per my doctor’s instruction, was –
- I left all metallic jewelry at home, the multiple piercings I had! It is because the jewelry would have tampered with the test results by sending false signals to the computer console in the presence of the magnets in the scanner.
- My doctor also asked me to stop taking the herbal supplement I do consume daily. If you take any medication or supplement every day, please let your doctor know about it. In case you pursue a contrast-enhanced CT, the medication intake may fall heavy post-scan!
Although I did not require the following two steps, you must consult your doctor –
- If you have claustrophobic tendencies and require sedatives during the scan, and
- If you bear any metallic implants in the body, like a pacemaker, dental fillings, or ear implant. Your doctor shall plausibly recommend an alternative test for you in that case!
Unveiling: How Long Does A Knee MRI Take?
Now, coming to your main question regarding how long a knee MRI takes, my knee scan, from the moment I entered the radiology lab and came out, took around 45 minutes. I suppose it would be the same for you!
But, if the radiologist is unable to fetch a clear picture and pinpoint the exact location and extent of the hidden abnormality, the scan shall continue for some more time until they can extract an in-depth report. This can extend even up to 90 minutes or so!
Moreover, since my doctor prescribed a contrast-enhanced knee MRI, I had to reach the diagnostic center three hours before the scan.
When I reached therein, the healthcare professionals administered the contrast intravenously into my arms and then asked me to wait for two hours. This particular waiting time was for the contrast dye to get attached to my red blood cells so that when the scan have to take place, this dye can highlight the areas of my knee and offer more clarity to the images.
It means if your doctor recommends the same for you, you must keep two to three hours extra in hand apart from the scanning period! If not, 2 hours would be enough to get your scan done amidst your tight work schedule.
Yes. That was more or less a gist of my Knee MRI story, and I hope this can give you an idea about how long the scan can take, how to prepare before up-taking it, how accurate it is, and what to expect from the scan report.
If you follow your doctors’ instructions thoroughly, indeed, there’s nothing to be scared of or panicked about! Your doctor is the one to help you nip the knee abnormality in its bud and get back to your normal health condition.