MRI Frequently Asked Questions:

  • What is a Magnetic Resonance Imaging examination?
  • How do I prepare for my MRI scan?
  • What can I expect during my MRI scan?
  • How long will my MRI scan take?
  • What will happen following my MRI scan?
  • Are there any important considerations I should take into account before undergoing my MRI?
  • How do I find out the results of my MRI scan?

What is a Magnetic Resonance Imaging examination?

MRI is a technique that allows doctors to see inside the human body in great detail without using X-rays. MRI uses a powerful magnet, radio waves, and a computer system. This type of scan will provide your doctor with important information about certain types of body tissue (internal organs, joints, the brain, and the spine). Information is provided differently than an X-ray or computed tomography (CT) scan.

How do I prepare for my MRI scan?

There is very little preparation required for an MRI scan. You can eat, drink, and take your medications prior to the scan. We encourage our patients to use the bathroom prior to the scan. You will also be asked to remove all metallic items from your person, such as watches, jewelry, hairpins, eyeglasses, and hearing aids. Do not take any credit or bank cards with you as the scanner will erase the information recorded on the magnetic strip. An area will be provided for safekeeping of valuables.

What can I expect during my MRI scan?

The scan is performed by a radiological technologist under the supervision of a radiologist (a doctor who assists in your medical diagnosis by interpreting X-rays and scans). Upon arriving in our MRI department, you will be greeted by a receptionist and asked a series of questions. Once in the scan room, you will be asked to lie down on a padded table.
During the MRI scan, it is important to hold very still as movement will cause the pictures to blur. During the entire examination, you will be able to speak to the technologist via an intercom system. Technologists will talk with you frequently during your scan, explaining the procedure each step of the way. When the scanner is operating, you will hear a loud thumping noise and may feel a slight vibration, which is normal. While the machine is thumping, it is very important to hold still since this is the time the scanner takes its pictures.
Some MRI scans require the injection of a contrast agent. This contrast agent is safe and is unrelated to the iodine contrast agents used in many other X-ray procedures.

How long will my MRI scan take?

Every MRI scan is different. However, most scans take approximately 30 to 45 minutes.

What will happen following my MRI scan?

Once your scan is completed you may resume normal activities and diet.

Is there anything that I should know before undergoing my MRI?

You should not have an MRI scan if you are, or suspect you may be, pregnant. It is very important to inform the doctor or the nurse of this prior to the scan.

There are special considerations if you have any of the following metal implants or objects: Aneurysm clips, artificial heart valve, bullets, cardiac pacemaker, eye/orbital prosthesis, hip or knee prosthesis, insulin pump implant, intracranial bypass graft clips, middle or inner ear prosthesis, shrapnel, sternal wire, sutures, tantalum mesh, or transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation device. If you have any of these implants or devices, your doctor will decide if you can be safely scanned.

If you have ever been a metal worker, it is important that you inform the doctor of this, as you may be required to have your eyes X-rayed before having the MRI scan.

This information will be asked on the day of the scan, and you will be asked to sign a form stating you are aware of the need to provide this information prior to the scan for your own safety.

How do I find out the results of my MRI scan?

The radiologist will review your scan and then send a report to your doctor, who will give you the results of the scan.