Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) of the orbital and maxillofacial areas is performed to often evaluate facial fractures and trauma involving the orbit, which is the bony cavity in the skull that houses the globe of the eye (eyeball), the muscles that move the eye (the extraocular muscles), the lacrimal gland, and the blood vessels and nerves required to supply these structures.
This type of MRI is also common to evaluate Temporomandibular Joint disorders often referred to as TMJ.
Because there is no ionizing radiation used in an MRI exam, Magnetic Resonance Imaging is a very popular tool in the medical community. In addition, MRI is a totally painless exam and has no known side effects.
When would I get a Orbital/Maxillofacial MRI?
Your medical provider may recommend an MRI involving the orbital and maxillofacial regions to be appropriate in order to:
- identify the cause of sudden vision loss
- evaluation of TMJ disorders
- detect the extent of orbital diseases and lesions
- confirm a diagnosis of acute demyelinating optic neuritis.
Orbital lesions form a wide range of pathologies that create challenges in diagnosis, management and treatment. MRI provides better lesion characterization. Especially in cases where history and clinical evaluation are insufficient, MRI plays a crucial role.
What Will I Experience?
MRI exams are painless. However, some patients find it challenging to remain still. Others may feel closed-in (claustrophobia) or anxious while in a conventional closed MRI scanner. The scanner can be noisy. Nervous or anxious patients may be offered a mild sedative.
A patient may also ask their medical provider to prescribe a mild sedative to take before the exam. If a mild sedative is taken, the patient will need to have someone drive them to our center and take them home once the exam is done.
It is normal for the area of your body being imaged to feel slightly warm. It is important that you remain perfectly still while the images are being recorded, which is typically only a few seconds to a few minutes at a time. You will know when images are being recorded because you will hear tapping or thumping sounds when the coils that generate the radiofrequency pulses are activated. You will be able to relax between imaging sequences, but will be asked to maintain your position as much as possible.
You will usually be alone in the exam room during the MRI procedure. However, the technologist will be able to see, hear and speak with you at all times using a two-way intercom.
You will be offered earplugs or a headset to reduce the noise of the MRI, which produces loud thumping and humming noises during imaging. MRI scanners are air-conditioned and well-lit. Some of our scanners have music you can listen to during the test.
If you have an exam that requires an injection of intravenous contrast material, it is normal to feel coolness and a flushing sensation for a minute or two following the injection. The intravenous needle may cause you some discomfort when it is inserted and once it is removed, you may experience some bruising. There is also a very small chance of irritation of your skin at the site of the IV tube insertion.
Typically, this type of MRI exam will take approximately 30 to 45 minutes to complete.