So, I wanted to talk about my first experience getting an MRI of my brain since I promised I’d follow up to those two posts I wrote about what happened to me. I would like to encourage you to visit this web site to better understand how these work. Also, I really enjoyed watching their videos, plus they recorded other experiments as well.
Anyhow, my ear, nose and throat doctor, whom I have seen since I was seven, back when he used the Rinne and Weber test using a 256-Hz and a 512-Hz tuning fork, saw me for the first time in six years. Also, when I was nine, he inserted a drainage tube in my left ear to try and clear up the fluid from my chronic otitis media. Then I was referred to see him back in 2010 because there was a significant decrease in my hearing, both in my left and right ears. I hadn’t seen him since then, but after what I went through back in 2016, I got to see him three more times. He agreed to do an MRI, as well as prescribe me some anti-anxiety medicine and send me to physiotherapy.
So, on Friday, 23 December 2016, I was given the order for my first MRI scan, which was to take place no more than half a mile away from where I was being seen. In fact, I was able to get an appointment very quickly. I also learned that the code most insurance companies used to identify an MRI scan was 7551 or 7552. I was really excited to get my first MRI scan, not only because I’ve read so much about it, but because I was taking one step closer to being able to 3D print a model of my brain, skull, and facial features.
I made arrangements to be picked up by my medical transportation provider on Tuesday morning, and we headed out to the medical plaza, which is similar to the main hospital, but it was more for out-patient use. My driver had a hard time locating the building because they went to one that was closed. So, I called them up, and we were able to get redirected to the right one. After stepping inside, I walked over to the registration desk where I took a seat as I filled out paperwork and handed over my insurance card. They got everything ready for me, and then, after about five minutes, I was guided up stairs to the third floor. They handed in my paperwork to the receptionist up there, and the same person led me to a row of chairs. After about ten minutes, the technologist (the same one I had spoken to on the phone when confirming my appointment) summoned me to the hallway where the imaging rooms were located. After making a stop at the restroom at my request, I swallowed one Percocet tablet I had gotten for wisdom teeth extractions, drank lots of water, and then I accompanied him to another room. There I found a locker where I could stash my belongings. I told him that I might not be able to hear him once my hearing aids were out. This is why I wish they utilised headsets like on a plane or helicopter. Later, I learned that their headsets were built like stethoscopes, meaning that they utilised air tubes. Anyhow, after everything was put away, I took my cane, since it was only aluminium, and the guy said it was not going to be attracted to the magnet. So we walked for about ten or so feet into the magnet room. We had to pass through two doors. The second door reminded me more of a soundproof booth. Still, it was a small tiled room with a table about a foot off the ground. After I got settled on the table, which felt like an arch to fit your back, like one of those changing tables, the technologist put a leg pillow to make my legs more comfortable and slightly elevated. Then he lifted the entire bed, but not before I tried feeling for the giant tube. He told me that it was located near the ceiling. So he elevated the bed to around five feet, and then he slid the bed back into the machine. I felt the sides of the tube, and it felt very smooth and cool to the touch. The entrance was like going into the bell of a French horn. The table was small enough to fit through the bottom of this opening. I imagine the coils are wrapped around the smallest part of the bell. If you stuck the insides of two French horn bells together, then I believe that is how it will feel, and what might cause the magnetic field to be generated around the bore. Oh wait! He also attached this headpiece that surrounded my head. It felt like bars were surrounding my face, but I could not feel them. Then he gave me some headphones, and a bulbous-like call button. Then he slid me into the tube and left the room and probably went next door to the control chamber. He tried talking to me through the intercom speaker, but I could not really make out what he said, but it sounded like, ‘still as a statue.’ Then I heard the low hum, knock, knock, knock, and then a whir as the machine was trying to find the best frequency to resonate with my body. That also included making low resolution images. This is called MR tuning. Once it has been tuned, it starts to work. Because I had headphones on, I could only hear the bass sounds of the machine. I could feel the side of the tube and the headpiece vibrate against my headphones. The pill I had taken before was already starting to make me feel more relaxed. After about twenty minutes, I was slid back out, and some gadolinium was slowly injected into my vein using a winged infusion set. Then the test continued for another ten minutes. After that test I was all done. He slid me out once more, removed the headpiece, headphones, and blanket, and then lowered me back to the ground. After I had my hearing aids put in, I was made aware of a hump, wump, hump, wump, hump, wump, hump, wump sound. I asked the technologist what it was, and he told me that it was the helium circulation system, keeping the coils from losing their conductivity.
A few weeks later, I ordered a Lyft to pick up the CD with my images in a DCM (diCom) format. Fortunately, I had gotten in touch with the biology instructor at Portland Community College, so I arranged to have those files sent. the first successful 3D print was made in early April 2017, which just consisted of my brain. I was hoping to send in my scan to an on-line library of other scans, similar to Thingiverse, but I haven’t found the right time to do it. We used a Tiertime Desktop Mini 3D printer.
So, there you go, my entire MRI and 3D-printing experience. And, let me finish this by saying that although I never had an MRI in my life until now, I thought I had invented the concept in my novel of my character lying on a bed, going to sleep and waking up, only to find that they were confined to a dark cocoon. And if that were not bad enough, they were six feet above the ground! So I was surprised to discover that this concept already existed. The MRI images the blood inside the brain, not the brain tissue itself. This is why a brain biopsy is still necessary, at least until we find some means of performing a stereotactic ultrasound.
Finally, I encourage you to look into getting a copy of your scans and have them 3D printed so you can study them. Perhaps we could have you work towards becoming a surgeon with blindness or other challenge contributing to the medical diagnostic imaging field! You could also help advance the bioengineering field by submitting models of your skin, skeleton, and other organs for use in various applications, like the cosmetic and reconstructive departments, too!
Check out these links for more information.
Get ready for some cuteness!