MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)

What is Magnetic Resonance Imaging?

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) produces images of the body’s internal structures by passing radio waves through a powerful magnetic field. Differing frequencies of radio waves are produced by the different body structures, in return, and these are mapped and converted into digital images by a computer. MRI is especially good for imaging soft tissues in the body, including the brain, nerves, muscles and organs.

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During your examination

Examination time depends upon the part of the body being examined, but typically ranges from 30 minutes to an hour. You will be asked to undress, remove all jewelry and put on a gown. Remember, the magnet will damage wristwatches, and erase credit cards and bank cards, so don’t take them into the exam room with you. You will be provided a safe place to secure your valuables.

For most types of exams, the MRI technologist will wrap a special coil around the body part that is being examined. This coil helps concentrate the radio frequency pulses. The MRI technologist then will position you on a padded, movable table that will slide into the opening of the scanner.

You may be given a contrast agent to highlight internal organs and structures.

You won’t feel anything during the scan, but you may hear intermittent humming, thumping, clicking and knocking sounds. These are the sounds of the magnetic gradients turning on and off.

The MRI technologist will not be in the room during the scan, but will be able to observe you through a window from a room next door and will be able to hear you and talk to you through a two-way microphone system. The technologist will tell you when each scan sequence is beginning and how long it will last. You will be asked to remain as still as possible throughout the sequence.

After your examination

After your films have been reviewed by a radiologist, your personal physician will receive a report of the findings. Your physician will then advise you of the results and discuss what further procedures, if any, are needed.

Magnetic resonance imaging is a noninvasive procedure, and there are no known side effects or after effects. It is important to increase your water consumption in the days following the examination.