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MRI imaging – Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses a powerful magnetic field, radio waves and a computer to produce detailed pictures of the body’s internal structures. It is used to evaluate the body for a variety of conditions, including tumors and diseases of the liver, heart, and bowel. MRI is noninvasive and does not use ionizing radiation.

How to Prepare

The exam is 45 minutes to one hour per body part. If you are given contrast it will add an additional 15-20 minutes. Total time you will be at the health care facility is one to two hours.

There is usually very little preparation for an MRI exam. Take your daily medications as you normally would, unless instructed otherwise. For those exams with dietary restrictions, you will be notified of the requirements when scheduling.

You will be asked to arrive 15-30 minutes prior to your exam time. You will be notified of your arrival time when scheduling.

You will be asked to change into a radiology attire. You should not wear jewelry, hair clips or other metal objects. A locker will be supplied to secure your belongings.

If you have any type of electronic implant, vascular or cardiac stent, or other surgical implants, please bring the device card or other documents with the device information with you, as these devices must be documented to be sure they are safe before you can go into the MRI room.

What to Expect

The MRI unit is a large “tunnel” or cylinder-shaped tube surrounded by a circular magnet. You will lie on a moveable examination table that slides into the center of the magnet.

Before you can go into the magnet, you will need to have a MRI screening form filled out. A scheduler may ask you these questions at the time of making your appointment. A MRI technologist will go over the form before your exam.

Your provider may have ordered IV contrast for your exam. The MRI technologist will start an IV prior to the administration of the contrast media.

You will be required to lie still during the actual scanning. MRI is sensitive to motion and any movement will cause the images to be blurry which will result in repeated scanning and longer time in the magnet. Depending on the body part that is being examined, you may be instructed to hold your breath for up to 30 seconds at a time.

The magnet is permanently open on both ends. It is well lit and there is a fan for patient comfort. The part of the body being scanned will be placed in the middle of the magnet. There is a two-way intercom system for communication with the technologist.

During the actual imaging, you will hear a loud intermittent banging noise. You will be provided with earplugs or headphones to minimize the noise during the procedure. You may select to hear music during your scan.

If you are claustrophobic, your doctor may prescribe an oral medication for you to take for your MRI appointment. If this is the case, be sure you have a driver with you.

The technologist will also provide you with an alarm button to alert the technologist of any discomfort you may experience at any point during the MRI exam.

After the Procedure

If you had IV contrast material, the technologist will remove the IV and place a bandage on the IV site.

Drink plenty of fluids to help flush all contrast media out of your system.

If you received sedation, someone must drive you home.

Your images will be read by a radiologist and a report will be sent to your doctor. Your doctor will get results of your exam within a few days.

Call Your Doctor

Complications are extremely rare (less than 1%). If you were given contrast, call your doctor if any of the following occurs after the exam:

  • Hives
  • Itching
  • Nausea
  • Swollen, itchy eyes or lips
  • Tightness of the throat
  • Difficulty breathing

Type of MRI Exams:

  • MRI Abdominal
  • MRI Angiography
  • MRI Arthrogram
  • MRI Brain
  • MRI Breast
  • MRI Cardiac
  • MRI Chest
  • MRI Enterography Scan
  • MRI Heart
  • MRI Musculoskeletal/Extremity
  • MRI Neck Scan
  • MRI Pelvis
  • MRI Prostate
  • MRI Spectroscopy
  • MRI Spine