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MEG: The real thing

January 24, 2008

meg.jpgToday I was scheduled for the “real MEG”. The check comprised a functional MEG followed by an MRI scan to enhance the MEG result by superimposing the images of the MEG and MRI. As the MEG and MRI are performed by different departments was it necessary to attach 3D reference points to my head.

For that purpose the operator attached three coils to my face (above nose and ears)  to allow the MEG equipment to locate the position of my head in the helmet. After completion of the MEG these coils were replaced by three black dots made with a black marker. Just before the MRI took place the MEG operator stuck little capsules with fish oil (!) on each of the black dots. These were to be picked up by the MRI. The hospital in which I get my treatment is the only hospital in the Netherlands where patients are being checked with this type of MEG procedure.

If you happen to suffer from claustrophobia then you know that afriendly and professional MEG or MRI operator can make just the difference your need to get through a MEG or MRI. My experience during the trial MEG was not very positive (Meg Trial Registration) and I was therefore concerned about my ability to control myself during the real MEG today.

In the last session with the psychologist did we take the action to restore the level of confidence and trust in that operator as much as we could. That was not necessary though as the MEG was performed by a different operator from last time: this one was friendly and professional! The “real” MEG of this morning went very well just because of that. Of course, a MEG check will never be something I do for fun. I only time I got really scared was when I was asked to place my head into the MEG helmet. The operator gave me all the time I needed to get used to the idea and within a couple of minutes, while thinking of Systematic Desensitization, was I ready for the MEG process.

The tasks to be performed were not complex: about 15 minutes of relaxation with eyes closed, 10 minutes/hand of hand movement and 10 minutes/foot of foot movement. Finally some muscles in my hands and feet were stimulated with small electric little shocks (about 5 minutes per hand and foot). The entire check lasted just under 2.5 hours. Quite some time if you have a cold and need to pee.

With three fish oil capsules stuck to my face I went to the MRI department in another building. I was positively surprised again, the latest model MRI from Siemens was waiting for me (the Siemens Avanto). Much shorter and much faster than the Siemens Sonata, which is used for the fMRI in this hospital and again much shorter and faster than the older types of MRI. Great!

The fish oil capsules prevented the usage of a headphone so some foam was placed inside the “helmet”. When I complained about it being too tight to avoid full blown panic the friendly operator (a different one) replaced them with less thick pads. I kept my eyes closed while being moved into the machine and 10 minutes later was moved out again. Amazing. Cheers to all the friendly operators of the MEG and MRI today!

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