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Patient Instructions

  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

Patient Instructions - Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

An MRI is a diagnostic exam in which strong magnetic radio waves and a computer are used to make images or pictures of the inside of your body. The images are multi-dimensional and are not produced by X-rays. Any area of your body may be scanned.

An MRI is done to show abnormalities that may be causing discomfort or other symptoms.

The magnetic fields used in MRI are not known to be harmful and MRI is painless. However, because of the way MRI works, metal in or on your body can affect the MRI pictures. It is very important to tell your doctor and MRI technologist if you have a cardiac pacemaker or artificial heart valve, metal plate, pin or other metal implant, insulin pump or other infusion pump, aneurysm clips, stents, IUD or inner ear implant.

The MRI staff will interview you before the scan about other implanted metal and/or electronic devices. They will be able to determine if you are safe to have an MRI scan. You should also let your doctor or MRI staff know if you are pregnant or nursing. MRI is not usually advised for pregnant women, especially in their first trimester.

Before your Procedure

  • You may eat normally unless instructed differently by your doctor.

  • Take medications as usual.

  • If you use medicated patches (Duragesic, Nitroglycerin, birth control), bring a replacement patch the day of the MRI.

  • If you are taking pain medication, it may be helpful to take this also before the exam, as you will be asked to lie still for a period of time.

  • It is very important that you are able to lie still during the scan. Movement will blur the pictures, producing a poor exam.

  • Dress in comfortable clothing without metal, if possible (hooks, zippers, etc.). A hospital gown will be available to change into if needed.

  • You will be asked briefly about your health history.

  • You will be asked to leave all metallic objects (jewelry, keys, credit cards, watches, hairpins, hearing aides, coins, etc.) in a secure place outside the scanning room.

  • You may be asked to change into a hospital gown.

  • You will be positioned as comfortably as possible on the exam table, lying on your back.

  • The table will slide into the large, tube shaped magnet with openings on both ends. The two ends of the scanner are always open. The part of the body to be scanned is in the center of the tube.

During your Procedure

  • The MRI Scanner makes a loud knocking or thumping sound that changes in frequency or pattern. Earplugs or headphones with your choice of music are available for your comfort.

  • It is very important that you lie still and follow the instructions of the technologist.

  • For some scans, a contrast agent is used to make certain parts of the body appear bright on the pictures. If this is needed for your exam, the contrast agent is injected into a vein in your arm or hand.

  • The length of your exam will depend on your medical condition and what part of the body is being scanned. Typically, 20-30 minutes per body part is sufficient, but allow 1-2 hours for the total process.

After your Procedure

  • Your doctor will be contacted with the results of your test and will discuss the results with you.

Providing safe, quality patient care is our highest priority. To help ensure quality and safety, we ask that you do not bring young children with you to your appointments, as children are not allowed to accompany you during Imaging procedures. Staff is unable to care for your child in your absence.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact your provider. 

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