Magnetic resonance imaging is a diagnostic system using electromagnetic radio waves. An MRI displays images of the body in “slices” similar to that of a CT scan, but it is also able to reflect greater contrast between different types of body tissues. Magnetic resonance imaging is one of the most advanced ways to view precise details of the head, neck, spine, muscles, joints and bones. It is also used to image the chest, abdomen and pelvis.
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 bring a favorite CD.
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.