Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

What is MRI?

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) combines radiofrequency waves, a strong magnetic field and a special computer to capture detailed images without the use of x-ray.

What can you expect during your MRI exam?

When you arrive for your exam, you will fill out a medical history questionnaire medical history and sign a consent form. If a contrast substance will be used during the exam, lab work may be completed to check your kidney function. The technologist will either give you a gown or check your clothing for metal before placing you on an exam table. Pillows and pads may be used to keep you comfortable and still.

Once you are in the proper position, a radio antenna device, called a coil, may be placed over the area of the body to be examined. The exam table moves into the MRI scanner. The table moves back and forth as the machine captures the images.-no back and forth movement Series of images are taken in short intervals. You may hear thumping noises as the scanner takes the pictures.

It’s important to remain as still as possible to avoid blurry images. You will be able to communicate with the technologist and/or radiologist via an intercom system.

An MRI exam is painless, but some patients struggle with claustrophobia. If this is a concern for you, inform the MRI team. Some patients may be given a sedative prior to the exam.

Because of the MRI system’s strong magnetic field, it’s critical you inform the MRI team if you have metal objects inside your body, such as:

  • Prosthetic hip
  • Heart pacemaker
  • Implanted port
  • Infusion catheter
  • Intrauterine device
  • Metal fragments (from a bullet, shrapnel, or working with metal)
  • Surgical staples, plates, pins and screws (usually these items do not pose a risk if in place more than four to six weeks)
  • Tattoos and permanent eyeliner
  • Tooth fillings and braces (these items are usually not affected by the magnetic field but may distort images of the facial area or brain)
  • If you have a heart stent or any other implanted device, it is important you bring the card your doctor gave you at the time the stent or implanted device was placed.

An MRI exam generally requires 15 to 45 minutes. You may be asked to remain present as the images are examined to determine if further images are needed.

How can you prepare for your MRI exam?

  • Wear loose clothing without metal zippers or snaps.
  • Remove objects prior to the exam that might degrade MRI images, including hairpins, eyeglasses, hearing aids and any removable dental work.
  • Leave metal jewelry at home.
  • Inform the radiologist if you are pregnant.
  • Tell the MRI team if you are claustrophobic. In some cases, a sedative may be administered.