MRI Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What is an MRI?
A. 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.
Q. What are the advantages of MRI?
A. 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
Q. When scheduling an appointment, are there certain conditions we need to know about?
A. 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
Q. How does a patient prepare for the exam?
A. 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.
Q. What will the exam be like?
A. 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.
Q. How long will the exam take?
A. The exam usually takes from 30 minutes. Time may vary significantly, depending on the nature of the study.
Q. When will the patient know the results?
A. The radiologist will study your films and report the findings to the referring physician within 24 hours. The referring physician will discuss the MRI results with the patient.