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Patient Instructions

  • Understanding MRI

Understanding MRI

What is a MRI?

MRI, or Magnetic Resonance Imaging scanners use strong magnetic fields, radio waves and a computer to make images or pictures of the inside of the body. The images are 2 or 3-dimensional and are not produced by X-rays. Any area of the body may be scanned. The magnetic fields used in MRI are not known to be harmful and MRI is painless.

How do I prepare my patient for the exam?

Because of the way MRI works, metal in or on the body can affect the MRI pictures.

Notify the MRI technologist if your patient has:

  • Cardiac pacemaker, artificial heart valve or implanted devices
  • Metal plate, pin or other metal implant
  • Insulin pump or other infusion pump
  • Aneurysm clips
  • Stents
  • IUD
  • Inner ear implant
  • Medicated IV drips
  • Foley catheter with a temperature control probe
  • Body piercing
  • Pregnancy
  • Claustaphobia

Jewelry needs to be removed (rings are usually compatible with MRI). Gowns with metal snaps need to be changed. The MRI staff will interview the patient briefly before the scan to ensure the patient is safe for MRI.

Pediatric patients requiring sedation will need to be NPO prior to sedation. All other patients may eat and drink normally before the scan.

Patients are required to lie on their back for their exam and remain still. Assess and medicate as needed for discomfort. Also, if a patient is claustrophobic, they may need to be medicated for anxiety.

During the MRI scan

  • Patients are positioned on the exam table, lying on their back.
  • The table will slide into the large, tube-shaped machine so that the part of your body to be scanned is in the center of the tube.
  • The MRI scanner makes a loud knocking or thumping sound that changes in frequency and pattern. Earplugs or headphones are provided.
  • For some scans, a contrast agent is used to highlight areas of the body.
  • An IV is required for contrast administration.

How long will the exam take?

This will depend on the medical condition and what part of the body is being scanned. Typically, 20-30 minutes per body part is sufficient.

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 monitor your child in your absence.

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

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