Magnetic Resonance Imaging provides highly detailed pictures of anatomy and pathology to help evaluate a wide range of conditions anywhere in the body. MRI uses a strong magnetic field and radiofrequency pulses to produce clear and detailed pictures. MRI does not use ionizing radiation and does not involve x-ray exposure. Detailed MR images allow physicians to better evaluate various parts of the body and determine the presence of certain diseases that may not be assessed adequately with other imaging methods such as x-ray, ultrasound or computed tomography (CT scanning).
- Brain stem
- Soft tissue neck
- Pelvis (boney)
- Pelvis (tissue)
- Sacroiliac joints
- Extremity digit(s)
- Lower extremity
- Lower joint
- Upper extremity
- Upper joint
During Your MRI Exam
During the MRI examination, the patient will be asked to rest motionless on a padded table for 30 to 90 minutes depending on the area of your body being scanned. The anatomic area of interest will be positioned in the center of the magnet. During the scan the patient will hear faint hums, and the thumping of radio waves. The patient is in constant contact with the MRI technician throughout the examination, and has access to a control button to alert the technician if necessary. To help make the MRI exam experience a pleasant one, we have a music system that patients can listen to during the exam. Patients are encouraged to request their favorite music from the technologist that will help them to relax.
No special preparation is required prior to the examination. Patients can continue to take all medication and follow their regular diet unless instructed otherwise. Prior to entering the scan room, the patient will be instructed to remove all jewelry, hairclips, watches, coins, keys and any other metal objects from their body. Credit cards and ATM cards must not be brought into the scan room, as the magnet will erase the magnetic codes on the cards. Patients with metallic or electronic implants, pacemakers or aneurysm clips should alert the technician prior to entering the scan room as the MRI may adversely affect these items.
Some MRI examinations require the use of a non-iodine containing injectable contrast material to increase the sensitivity of the examination and achieve additional information. The contrast material is injected into a vein using a very small needle, which is removed before the scanning begins. The decision to use the contrast material will be made by the referring physician and/or radiologist.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the advantages of MRI?
Some of the advantages of MRI are:
- Earlier detection of disease or injury, making earlier treatment possible
- No exposure to X-rays or radioactive substances
- It is painless, accurate, quick and safe
- No known side effects
When scheduling an appointment, are there certain conditions we need to know about?
Please advise the technologist if you have any of the following:
- A pacemaker
- Are pregnant, or suspect that you may be
- Have aneurysm clips
- Have had heart or brain surgery
- Have any metal fragments in your eyes
- Have shrapnel in your body
- Suffer from claustrophobia
- Weigh 300 lbs. or more
How does a patient prepare for the exam?
Patients should continue with their normal activities, eat light meals, and take any prescribed medications as usual. If possible avoid wearing clothes that have metal buckles, buttons or zippers. Do not use hair spray or eye makeup and please bring your insurance information with you, along with any previous X-rays or imaging studies of the area to be examined.
What will the exam be like?
The patient will be met by our MRI technologist who will be performing the examination. The technologist has completed a rigorous course of education and training, and they work under close supervision of the radiologist to assure the most accurate results from your examination.
The technologist will position and secure the patient on the imaging table. It is important that the patient be secured, because even the slightest movement during the exam can blur the image and result in the need for repeated scans.
The technologist will have the patient in full view at all times during the examination. The technologist and the patient will be in constant communication via a two-way microphone for the length of the examination. The patient will not feel a thing, but may hear the hum of the equipment as the images are being produced.
The patient may be given an intravenous contrast medium, gadolinium to highlight certain abnormalities and blood vessels. The contrast medium at other times, contrast may be given by mouth or rectum for gastrointestinal applications.
How long will the exam take?
The exam usually takes from 30 minutes. Time may vary significantly, depending on the nature of the study.