Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) uses radio-frequency (RF) pulses within a magnetic field to create detailed images throughout the body. MRI is completely painless and without side effects. No x-rays are used. MRI is sometimes used to avoid the harm of angiography, repeated exposure to x-rays, or for patients who cannot receive x-ray contrast.
Detailed images of the brain, spine, abdomen, pelvis, musculoskeletal system, and blood vessels can be obtained. Tumors, strokes, multiple sclerosis, herniated discs, ligament tears, and plaques and blood vessels can be exquisitely diagnosed using MRI. MRI does not replace exams, like X-ray and CT.
When you arrive at the facility you will register at central registration. Then a MRI technologist will go through the MRI screening form with you. Your medical history, symptoms and surgeries will be recorded. You will then be asked to change into a gown and remove all metallic objects and lock them up in a secured locker. The technologist will ask you to lie on a cushioned table and move you into the magnet after you are comfortably positioned for the exam. While the images are being taken the machine makes loud noises similar to that of a drum beat. These sounds are normal for the MRI machine to make when taking pictures. You will be given ear plugs.
Not everyone having a MRI receives an injection. The technologist will inform you if you require this injection and inform you what to expect. The contrast is gadolinium. It is only used for MRIs. It is often used to makes structures, organs, blood vessels easier to see. The injection may give you a taste in your mouth but the sensations are minimum and most people have none. These sensations last for a very short time and are completely normal.
You will arrive early for your MRI appointment. The exam takes 30 to 90 minutes, depending on the exam.
MRI does not require any special preparations unless you are having an abdominal or pelvis study done, in which case you are not to drink or eat 3 hours prior to your exam. You may want to avoid drinking coffee or caffeinated beverages so that you can lie still during your exam. If you have fear of confined spaces (claustrophobia), please inform your doctor so they can prescribe you some medication that will relax you. Please bring this medication (mild sedative) with you to your MRI appointment. If taking sedation, please arrange an escort to accompany you home.