One of the most important things you can do following an accident is to undergo a diagnostic test to determine whether you are injured. The results of these tests can also be used to support your case and may affect its value.
What is an MRI?
Magnetic Resonance Imaging is a test used by doctors for a variety of reasons. Some uses for an MRI are to diagnose a disease, determine how well a patient has responded to a treatment or to evaluate the extent of an injury. In short, an MRI is able to create detailed images of the inside of the body. Unlike some other medical tests, MRIs do not utilize radiation. Rather, they use powerful magnetic fields and radio waves. Generally, these tests are used to create images of non-bone parts of the body such as organs and tissue.
What Preparation is Required for an MRI?
There is very little preparation required for an MRI. It is a non-invasive, painless procedure that is usually performed at a hospital. The patient should wear comfortable clothes and remove all jewelry and other metal objects. Upon arrival at the hospital, the patient will be asked to change into a gown. In some cases, the patient will be given an IV fluid to help certain tissue to appear brighter, or in more contrast.
What Happens During the Scan?
Every effort is made to make the patient comfortable and relaxed during the scan including pillows, blankets and even headphones. This is because it is imperative for the patient to hold still during the scan so that the images will be clear. The total time once the scan begins is between 20-60 minutes depending on which part of the body is being examined. If the images are not clear, the patient may be asked to repeat the test.
What Risks are Associated With an MRI?
MRIs are considered very safe. Although rare, the contrast agents, all of which are FDA approved, can create an allergic reaction in some people. If someone is allergic to these agents, the test can still be performed, it may just not provide as clear of an image for the radiologist to evaluate.
Other circumstances that are important to discuss with your doctor before having an MRI include a pacemaker or artificial heart value, any metal plates/pins/metallic implant, body piercings, intrauterine devices, insulin or other drug pump, aneurysm clips, previous gunshot wounds, cochlear implants or other hearing devices, employment history as a metalworker or permanent makeup as they may impact the quality of the images.
It’s also critical to inform your doctor if you have any kidney problems, diabetes or if you could be pregnant.
How can it Help Determine my Injuries?
When someone is injured in an accident, it’s important to thoroughly evaluate and document the extent of the injuries that may have been sustained. Anyone involved in a traumatic injury should seek the advice of a medical professional to determine the appropriate diagnosis. Getting an MRI could be an important step in this process as not all injuries may be obvious immediately after the incident. MRIs can be especially useful when dealing with injuries to the head, neck and spine, although not limited to those applications.
Medical professionals including chiropractors, physical therapists, orthopedic doctors or any other treating physicians can determine if an MRI is warranted. They will often order MRIs when a patient is experiencing pain that cannot be explained via an examination or other tests such as Xrays or CT scans. MRI scans will result in a set of films, which can be evaluated by a radiologist who will then create a formal report based on their findings.
How can MRI Evidence Impact my Accident Case?
MRIs can be used as evidence in court of your injuries. They can add to the overall value of your case when they show that the injuries are related to the accident. This happens when the test results show muscle, ligament or muscle tears or damage to discs such as herniation. If the MRI shows acute brain damage, there can be a significant increase in the value of your case as this type of injury can negatively affect so many aspects of your life.
In other cases, it may show that the injuries are not related to the accident in which case the evidence will not add to the value of your case. Some keywords to look for in the MRI report that would indicate the injuries are not related specifically to an accident are degenerate or arthritic.
Typically, the evidence will include films – similar to those of xrays – as well as a written report by the radiologist that was on staff at the medical facility where the procedure was initially performed. This can provide objective evidence of injuries that are not apparent to the naked eye.
Having the films themselves can be an important visual to the jury as well. They injury can be shown and pointed to on the film rather than just hearing verbal testimony regarding the extent of the injuries.
Another important aspect of having the films is the opportunity to have a second opinion from an outside physician or radiologist. Having multiple medical professionals agree on the nature of your injuries helps strengthen your case.