February 9, 2023
February 9, 2023

What Is a Whole Body MRI Screening and Why Should You Get One?

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What Is a Whole Body MRI Screening and Why Should You Get One?

Key takeaways:

  • A whole body MRI screening is a powerful imaging test to detect abnormalities inside your body.
  • MRI scans are fast, accurate, painless, and non-invasive ways to screen for signs of possible cancer and other health issues.
  • A whole body MRI scan is safer than other scanning methods, as it doesn’t use harmful ionizing radiation.
  • Routine screenings with whole body MRI scans may help with early detection of health issues, like malignancies, giving you a better opportunity to start treatment early.

Advancements in medical technologies have made it easy to catch many potentially fatal diseases early. This may increase your chance of better outcomes and quality of life.

A whole body MRI screening is a versatile and powerful medical imaging technique that helps medical professionals see what’s happening inside your body in a non-invasive way.

This imaging test helps detect diseases like possible cancer and heart problems early to offer patients a better prognosis.

What Is a Whole Body MRI Screening?

A whole-body MRI screening utilizes an imaging test called an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan. It’s a painless, non-invasive test and is performed inside a sophisticated machine called the MRI scanner.

The scanner is a doughnut-shaped machine with a table that slowly moves inside it. When you have a whole body MRI scan, you lie on the table while it moves inside the tube.

As your body moves, it’s scanned using a combination of radio waves and a powerful magnetic field. The signals are then sent to software which creates images of the inside of your body—soft tissues, organs, bones, joints, and blood vessels.

A radiologist studies these images so they can check for any abnormality inside your body.

A major advantage of MRI scans is that, unlike CT (computed tomography) scans, PET (positron emission tomography) scans, and X-rays, an MRI doesn’t use any harmful ionizing radiation, so you won’t need to worry about any resulting radiation exposure.

At Ezra, we use a low-dose CT scan (LDCT) for scanning lungs for cancer screening in individuals who medically qualify. This scan uses five times less radiation than a regular CT scan.

What Can a Whole Body MRI Screening Help To Detect?

Whole body MRI screening: doctor analyzing a patient's X-ray

A whole body MRI screening can help detect possible cancer lesions, aneurysms (blood vessel blockages), bone and joint issues, and spine problems inside your body.

An MRI scan of the head and a spine MRI may help detect:

  • Brain injuries
  • Blood vessel damage
  • Stroke
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Problems with the eye and inner ear

An MRI of the chest region may detect problems with the heart and associated blood vessels, such as:

  • Structural problems of the heart (weakened walls, valves, etc.)
  • Inflammation of the tissue that covers the heart
  • Blockages in the major blood vessels of the heart
  • Damage following a heart attack

An MRI of the abdomen and pelvis is useful for determining the health of organs, such as:

  • Liver
  • Prostate
  • Ovaries
  • Kidneys
  • Pancreas

An MRI scan of bones and joints helps detect possible abnormalities, such as:

  • Infections
  • Structural damage to bones and joints
  • Cancers
  • Disk problems in the spinal cord

An MRI scan helps determine issues with the breasts, such as:

  • Screening for breast cancer
  • To check if breast implants have ruptured

Apart from detecting health problems, an MRI scan is also useful in assessing the efficacy of a treatment—for example, chemotherapy for cancer. In cases where a nodule is thought to be a tumor, MRI scans can also guide the biopsy.

The ezra Full Body is an MRI-based service that scans up to 13 organs in your head, neck, abdomen, and pelvis for signs of possible cancer.

How Do I Prepare for a Whole Body MRI Screening?

A whole body MRI (WB-MRI) screening scan is a painless procedure that may last for up to four hours.

The time a whole body MRI (WB-MRI) takes depends on a number of factors like your ability to remain absolutely still during the scan, your ability to hold your breath for short periods of time during the scan, and whether you are given contrast material.

At Ezra, an MRI scan takes around an hour, which is one of the fastest whole body scan protocols on the market.

On the day of the scan, you may be able to eat and drink normally and take your regular medications, unless advised otherwise. To get a better scanning experience, it’s advisable to not consume large amounts of food or liquids at least a couple of hours prior to your scan.

Because MRI scans use magnets, you’ll have to remove all metallic objects—wallet, belt, watch, phone, jewelry, glasses, dentures, wigs—from your person. If you have a medical implant, like a pacemaker, or even a tattoo, you’ll need to inform your technician.

At Ezra, we aim to make you as comfortable as possible during your scan experience. We provide you with a clean set of pajamas that you can change into.

We also offer earplugs and, at select partner facilities, we’ll also play your favorite Spotify® playlist so that your scan can become an enjoyable experience.

Recommended reading: What To Expect Before Your ezra Screening

Are There Any Risks in Whole Body MRI Screenings?

An MRI scan is usually very safe as long as you prepare according to the above instructions, especially regarding metal implants or devices. Again, an MRI does not use harmful radiation.

In case a patient is given a contrast dye, there is a rare chance of an allergic reaction to the chemical. A contrast MRI is sometimes ordered to obtain better images.

However, with current advances in imaging technologies, non-contrast MRI scans can be as effective as those with contrast to reveal abnormalities. Ezra Scans do not utilize contrast agents for their Full Body.

Compounds of gadolinium are normally used as contrast agents. And these compounds may rarely cause allergic reactions like nausea, vomiting, bone pain, headaches, and altered taste. These reactions generally subside on their own. In people who have kidney issues, the contrast agent may cause problems.

MRIs are not advised for pregnant women. If you are pregnant, you need to talk to your obstetrician before scheduling a whole-body MRI scan. MRIs are not advised for pregnant women.

Are Whole Body MRI Screenings Worth It?

Elderly couple walking outdoors

As part of preventive medicine, more experts are advocating for the use of safer, painless, and faster screening alternatives like MRI scans to help individuals detect diseases faster.

Whole-body magnetic resonance scans are accurate and sensitive and may have a better diagnostic performance than CT scans or ultrasounds alone for certain organs.

Cancer screenings may help with early detection. Early detection empowers you to take control of your health care and can help ensure a better clinical outcome.

Regular cancer screening becomes even more vital for individuals who are deemed “high-risk.” For example, if you have a family history of cancer or other diseases or are a smoker (both present and previous) you need to be proactive with your cancer screenings.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends regular screenings for adults who are at higher risk for lung cancer.

They also recommend that women should get screened for cancers of the breast, uterus, ovaries, colon, and rectum, and men should get screened for colon, rectal, and prostate cancer.

Ezra Scan: Whole Body MRI Screenings for Preventative Health Care

The Ezra Scan is specially designed to empower individuals with an advanced imaging modality that is accurate, fast, and cost-effective and may help in the early detection of cancer or other health issues. This may lead to faster interventions and better clinical outcomes.

Our whole-body MRI screening service comes in two kinds of scans: the Ezra Full Body, which scans up to 13 organs for signs of cancer, and the advanced Ezra Full Body Plus which scans up to 14 organs.

The Ezra Full Body costs just $1,950, or a payment plan of $180/month. The Ezra Full Body Plus costs $2,350 (or $220 per month) and also includes a coronary calcium scoring of the heart. If you medically qualify, you may also have a low-dose chest CT and a Prostate MRI with IV contrast included with the Full Body Plus.

The Ezra Scan includes a 45-minute optional follow-up video consultation and a mid-year check-in with an Ezra Medical Provider as well as access to an Ezra Personal Care Advisor.

Ezra Scans qualify for FSA and HSA dollars, so you can use this tax-free money to stay on top of your health.

If you want to find out your risk for cancer, we’ve developed a quiz based on the Harvard Center for Cancer Prevention’s Cancer Risk Index. Take the 5-minute quiz.