Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI or MR)
What it is, what to expect and what MRI equipment looks like.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI or MR) combines a powerful magnet with an advanced computer system and radio waves to produce accurate, detailed pictures of organs and tissues to diagnose a variety of medical conditions and guide patient care.
The strength of an MRI magnet is called “field strength” and is measured in Tesla or “T”. Higher field strength means the scanner has a stronger magnet and the ability to produce more detailed images.
Images from high-field MRI scanners are read by our specialized radiologists – doctors with advanced training in reading imaging studies of the body part you are having examined – so you can be confident of an accurate diagnosis.
The MRI Experience
If you have not had an MRI exam before, chances are you have questions about what to expect. Here, you’ll find information on how to prepare and what to expect during and after your exam. MRI is one of the safest, most comfortable imaging techniques available.
- Preparation for your MRI will depend on your specific exam. A center representative will call you prior to your appointment to provide personalized instructions, and review health and insurance information.
- At the time of your appointment, notify a center staff member if you are nursing or if there is a chance you could be pregnant.
- Because of the magnetic field, you will be required to wear metal-free clothing, or to change into a gown. You also will be asked to remove any metallic objects, such as jewelry, watches and hair clips.
- On the day of your exam, please arrive 15 minutes early to check-in and bring prior imaging results with you, if instructed.
- Your technologist will talk through a MRI safety checklist with you. Inform your technologist of prior surgeries or metal implants, such as pacemakers or aneurysm clips.
- The technologist will help position you on a cushioned table and, often, an imaging device called a “coil” will be placed around the area of the body to be scanned.
- Once you are comfortably positioned, the technologist will go out of the room to run the scanner from a computer located directly next to the scanner suite, visible through the viewing window.
- At this time, the MRI table you are on will move into the scanner and the technologist will take the images. It is important to lie as still as possible during this part of the exam to help us capture clear images. Your will hear “knocking” or “buzzing” sounds for a few minutes at a time. If you have never heard an MRI, you can listen to the sounds before your exam.
- The technologist will communicate with you throughout the exam.
- In some cases, you will need contrast material to further aid in the detection or diagnosis of potential abnormalities. In this instance, an I.V. will be placed in your hand or arm.
- After the exam, your images will be sent electronically to one of our radiologists who will review the information and write a report for your provider. This information is shared with your provider within 24 hours of your exam. The provider who referred you for the MRI will be the one to follow-up with you about your results.