For this test I had to have my gown totally open and pulled back from the front. I laid face down on a table that was very similar to a massage table -- complete with the donut shaped face support. The setup, though, had a cutout area for my boobs to hang down. Since they were only scanning my boob-area I was free to wiggle my toes, which came in handy once I realized there was a rhythm to the noises. I seem to recall that the machine they used was open at the back - a donut scanner similar to other scanning machines (CT, MUGa, Bone Scan machine) - not like the one in that Doctor Who episode where the blood sucking alien tries to blow up the moon with an MRI machine. The technician gave me a set of headphones to wear. They didn't seem to block out any noise, but I guess they helped since I didn't have any trouble hearing after the test.
Once I was all comfortable, the table was slid inside the machine. After a couple of minutes the noises began. Bleeps, blips, old midi-type sounds/noise. The strange thing was that there was a rhythm and pattern to the sounds, and after a few minutes there would be a pause and the sounds would start again but with a different rhythm and pattern. After several minutes I realized that it reminded me of some of the old noise bands I used to listen to when I was a kid. I was getting a free personal concert! I almost laughed a few times; it was so surreal!
The test required a contrast medium to be pumped through my veins. This one didn't make me nauseated like the CT scan. I don't know if that was because I was taking mega-anti-emetics because I had just had chemo, or if it really is better. Everyone (doctors and technicians) told me that the contrast medium for an MRI is completely different from that for a CT scan, and that nausea is more common with the one for the CT scan.
One thing that people have mentioned having issues with is being in the confined space of the machine. I cannot comment on that. Since I was face down I really couldn't tell how large or small the interior was.
The whole MRI concerto lasted about 30 minutes. Once it was over I just had to be detached from the IV and wrapped back up in my gowns, then I was free to go.
Test RatingsTime Required [short, medium, long]: medium (~1 hour from arriving to leaving)
Pain Factor [0-10]: 2 (there was an IV, but no other pain)
Comfort Factor [0-10]: 8 (I was propped up very comfortably, I can imagine it would be annoying if you had to keep every part of your body completely still though)