Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) uses radio frequency waves and an electromagnetic field, rather than x-rays, to produce detailed images of internal organs and tissues. MRI provides images of certain body parts that can be imaged no other way.
An MRI exam utilizes equipment composed of a large magnet (large enough to surround the patient), a radio wave transmitter and a computer. MRI does not use x-rays, and the magnetic fields it does use are not known to be harmful. An MRI can produce two- or three-dimensional images of what is going on inside a patient's body. The images it produces are very precise. MRI is extremely useful in diagnosing tumors, nervous system disorders and various types of cancer and organ diseases in different parts of the body. The MRI scanner is like a large, long tube and gives you the feeling of lying in a small cave, when you are inside it. During the exam, you will be able to communicate with the technologist. You will not feel anything during the scan, but you will hear some loud peculiar knocking and grating sounds from the machine. Certain types of metallic implants in the body may prevent you from being able to enter the magnetic field. You should inform the technologist about the implants, during your pre-scan evaluation.
- You should plan on one to two hours in the department for your exam
- If you are an outpatient, please be at the X-ray admissions office at least 15 minutes prior to your exam time.
- You may be asked to not eat or drink anything for several hours prior to the exam.
- Wear loose, comfortable clothing that can be easily removed. Anything metal will have to be removed before you can go into the scan room.
- You will be asked to fill out a form documenting your medical history.
- You will be screened closely for any sort of metallic object in or on your body.
- You will be asked to put on a hospital gown or scrubs.
- You may need to have plain x-rays made of the area of your body that is to be examined by MRI.
- The technologist will explain the procedure to you and answer any questions you may have.
- Your medical history will determine whether or not you need to have IV contrast given.
- If you need to have contrast given, the technologist will have an IV started on you.
- You will be asked to lie down on the scan table and be given a set of ear phones, to help block out the loud noise of the scanner.
- The technologist will position you, and the scan table will move to take you into the MRI scanner.
- Once the scan is begun, you will be asked to hold very still.
- Before you leave, the scan images will be checked for quality.
After the exam
- You may resume your normal activities and diet.
- Exam results will be reported to your physician within 24 hours.
If you have any further questions, please call the Radiology Department at 256.218.3850.