Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a test your doctor may order to diagnose a disease or injury, or to see how well a treatment is working.
MRI does not use any radiation to create an image. Instead, MRI uses a strong magnetic field, radio waves to make detailed images of the part of your body being examined.
What You Need To Know
- We’ll do everything we can to help you stay comfortable during your exam. Our goal is to capture high-quality images the first time and get your doctors the answers they need to guide your care.
- Our skilled, caring technologists will talk you through every step of the exam. They’ll check in regularly to make sure you’re doing well.
- You’ll be given a squeeze bulb so you can communicate with the technologist throughout your exam.
- MRI machines are noisy, so you’ll be offered earplugs or headphones to help block out the noise.
- The scanning room is kept cool for the MRI machine, but we have blankets available if you feel cold.
- If you are uncomfortable at any time during your exam, let your technologist know.
Metal is not allowed in the MRI room because the magnetic field in the scanner attracts metal. Even some fabrics contain small amounts of metal, which can cause burns. That’s why we ask all of our patients to change into scrubs for MRI exams. You will be given a locker to store your clothes, and anything else you may have with you during your exam. You will be asked to remove any metal objects—even small ones—including jewelry, watches or hair clips.
The technologist will review the MRI safety checklist with you. This is to make sure you don’t have any metal in your body that could cause problems during the test. These could include:
- Hearing aids
- Body piercings
- Metal implants (such as valves, clips, stents, joints or limbs)
- Metal fragments (such as bullets, shrapnel or filings)
- Skin patches that contain metal
- Insulin pumps
- Implanted devices (such as pacemakers, neurostimulators, cochlear implants, drug pumps, cardioverter-defibrillator)
- Pins or screws
For our full MRI safety checklist, click here.
What To Expect
- We’ll give you a call before your appointment to talk through preparation instructions and your past imaging exams.
- If your exam requires contrast, we’ll discuss any special requirements with you.
- Be sure to tell us if you are pregnant, nursing, or if there is a chance you may be pregnant.
- On the day of your exam, please arrive 15 minutes early for check-in. If instructed to do so, please bring prior imaging results with you.
- When you arrive, you will be led to a changing room and given a pair of scrubs to wear for your exam. You will be given a locker to store your clothes, and anything else you may have with you during your exam.
- The technologist will help position you on a cushioned table. Your position and how much of your body will be inside the MRI will depend upon the body part being scanned.
- Often, an imaging device called a “coil” will be placed around the area of the body to be scanned. The coil acts like an antenna to help capture high quality images of your body.
- You will be offered earplugs or headphones, as well as a blanket for your comfort.
- 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. The technologist will communicate with you throughout the exam and check to see how you are doing.
- When the scan starts, the table you’re on will move into the scanner so the technologist can capture images. It’s important to lie as still as possible during this part of the exam to help us capture clear images. You will hear “knocking” or “buzzing” sounds for a few minutes at a time.
- Depending on the part the body being scanned, MRI contrast (a special dye that helps highlight your anatomy) may be needed. Contrast will be administered through an IV placed in your hand or arm before your exam.
- When your scan is complete, you’ll be escorted back to the changing room so you can change out of the scrubs and back into your clothing.
- Once you have changed, your appointment is complete. You do not need to check out with the front desk when you leave.
- After the exam, your images will be sent electronically to one of our radiologists. This radiologist will review the information and send a report to your referring provider, typically within one to two business days.
- You should follow up with your referring provider to discuss your results.