Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
What is MRI?
MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging, is an imaging method used as a diagnostic tool by radiologists to view internal structures within the body. The system consists of a large, tube-shaped device that uses magnetism and radio waves to create high resolution, three-dimensional images of the soft tissues of the body, including the brain, spinal cord, organs, joints and muscles. An MRI is a non-invasive, painless procedure that does not involve radiation.
Before Your Exam
If you are claustrophobic or think you might be, please inform your physician before your scheduled appointment to allow consideration for how your exam will be performed. For patients with special needs, especially bariatric patients, please inform the scheduler, so proper accommodations can be made.
If there is any possibility that you may be pregnant, please inform your physician or technologist, as MRI scans should be avoided within the first three months of pregnancy.
For any exam requiring the use of contrast, you should increase your fluid intake to ensure you are well hydrated, as well as restrict your caffeine intake, for 24 hours prior to your exam.
On the day of your appointment, you will check in at Outpatient Imaging 30 minutes prior to your exam time to complete your registration and paperwork. Allow at least one hour for your exam.
After the registration process is complete, you will be taken to the MRI department. You will be asked to change into a gown and to remove any jewelry or metallic objects. You should always inform the MRI technologist if you have a pacemaker, aneurysm clips or any metallic implants. Braces and dental fillings are normally not a problem; however, removable dentures, bridges or retainers should be removed prior to your exam.
During the Exam
Once you are in the scan room, you will be asked to lie on a sliding table that allows the technologist to move you into the magnet.
During the exam, you will hear a series of loud, repetitive knocking noises while you are inside the magnet. The MRI technologist can provide you with foam earplugs or a stereo headset to help mask the noise.
You will be asked to lie very still for periods of 3-10 minutes at a time while the series of images are collected. Any motion could affect the quality of the images. You may also be asked to hold your breath at certain times during the exam. Your body may feel an overall warmth as the scan is performed.
If you need anything during the exam, or if you become too uncomfortable, you may inform the technologist at any time. The technologist will speak to you periodically throughout the exam to keep you updated on the progress of the scan, or to give you specific instructions.
Some MRI exams may require the use of a dye-like contrast material. This is given in the form of an intravenous (IV) injection and is used to enhance the detail of the images.
After the Exam
You may resume your normal activities unless otherwise instructed. If you received contrast as part of your exam, it will pass through your body naturally within a couple of hours. A radiologist will interpret your exam, and the results will be sent to your physician who will discuss the results with you.