Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a state-of-the-art test that produces very clear, detailed pictures of the organs and structures in your body. The test uses a powerful magnetic field, radio waves, and a computer to create images. A MRI lets your health care provider see structures of the body such as the brain, spinal column, internal organs and joints of the arms and legs. It can also be used to evaluate many blood vessel disorders by using special non-invasive imaging techniques known as MRA, Magnetic Resonance Angiography.

Most MRI’s take between 25-40 minutes. The technologist will ask you to lie down on a cushioned table which will automatically move into the magnet after you have been comfortably positioned for your scan. The MRI makes a loud knocking noise while the image is taken. For your comfort, you will be given ear plugs or ear phones to listen to music during the exam. The technologist will leave the magnet room, but will be in constant contact with you throughout the exam.

If you are nervous or anxious when you are in small enclosed spaces, you should talk to your health care provider before your MRI appointment. If your health care provider prescribes a medication for you to receive from your pharmacy of choice, this must be taken before entering the hospital. You will then need someone to drive you to and from your appointment.

The Radiologist is the physician responsible for interpreting the MRI picture and he/she also determines whether or not you need to be given a MRI contrast injection called Gadolinium during your test. When needed to help make a diagnosis, a MRI contrast agent is given to improve the quality of certain images. MRI contrast reactions are rare and usually not severe. If your exam requires the use of a MRI contrast agent, the technologist will start an IV before or during the exam and administer the contrast.

When the test is over, you may go home. Your health care provider will discuss the results with you.

You CANNOT have a MRI if you have any of the following:

  • Pacemaker
  • Certain heart valves (please bring a card)
  • Cochlear implants
  • Cerebral aneurysm clips
  • Neurostimulator/ Swan Ganz catheter

Objects the MRI staff will request to be removed:

  • Hearing aid(s)
  • Orbital/ Eye prosthesis
  • Any type of implant held in place by a magnet
  • Artificial limb or brace
  • Clothing containing metallic snaps, hooks, pins or zippers
  • All hair pins
  • Wigs
  • Jewelry (rings on hands may remain on most of the time)
  • Dentures
  • Eyeglasses
  • Credit cards, bank cards and anything else with a magnetic encoding that will be erased by the magnet
  • Metallic objects from clothing or pockets (ie. keys, coins, knives, pens, glasses, lighters, belt buckles, cell phones, beepers, firearms, etc.)
  • Life alert bracelet or necklace
  • Wrist/ ankle alarm bands
  • Topical medication patches