MRI/MRS investigations are being performed at 4 out of the 6 visits over the 3 year study. Whole body MRI screening or at least lower limbs are being performed, depending on the equipment available at the study site. MRS studies that examine energy metabolism will be performed at selective centers based on the availability of equipment.
MRI/MRS are special imaging/measurement techniques that use powerful magnets, radio waves and computers to produce detailed images (or scans) or measurements of the different tissues of the human body in a non-invasive way (without the need for a biopsy). MRI gives information about the structure of the body (the distribution of water and fat), while MRS gives biochemical information about the tissues in the body. These techniques do not use X-rays and do not cause pain or discomfort.
The entire scanning session (MRI and MRS) takes approximately 2-3 hours and participants have to lie on their backs on a moveable table, which slides inside the cylindrically shaped scanner. The scanner is open ended and patients are not completely enclosed at any time. A radiographer operates the scanner from behind a window, but can hear and see participants during the scanning. Participants are given a call button to hold during the scanning, which they can press to get the radiographer’s attention if they need to. There are people available to help participants on and off the table if required. It takes several minutes for each image to be taken, and patients need to lie still and breathe gently during the process.
The machine is noisy and will make a loud knocking or buzzing sound throughout the scanning. However, we will provide you with ear plugs and headphones which will help block a lot of the sound out. Patients are able to eat and drink as usual before the scanning and will not need to take any special precautions. The risks of MRI/MRS are explained here.
MRI machine image by Tomáš Vendiš (Tomáš Vendiš) [GFDL, www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html, or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0, www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0], via Wikimedia Commons, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:3TMRI.jpg.