MRI - Magnetic Resonance Imaging PDF

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What is an MRI?

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a painless, advanced method of imaging particular parts of the body. It uses a strong magnetic field, radio frequencies, and a computer to generate highly detailed images of your body without the use of radiation. When you are placed in a strong magnetic field, the protons in your body align themselves in the same direction as the magnetic field. A radio signal causes the protons to move out of alignment. When the signal ends and the protons realign, they emit different signals dependent upon what type of tissue they are in. A computer analyzes this information and creates the images of your body.

You will be asked to lie down on a comfortable table that moves into the opening of the MRI scanner. You will not feel anything. However, you will hear a series of knocking sounds. During the exam, a technologist who will be in contact with you through an intercom, will closely monitor you, provide comfort, and explain the steps of the procedure. If you need anything, you will be able to communicate with the technologist through the intercom. An exam typically lasts 30-60 minutes. Some types of scans may require the use of a contrast agent injected through your veins to better visualize particular tissues.

When the exam is complete, a board-certified radiologist who has experience with MRI will review your images. We will then promptly generate a report for your doctor. Occasionally, you may be asked to come back for additional scans before the report can be finalized. The radiologist may want to focus on a slightly different area, or you may have moved while the images were being taken.

What should I do to prepare?
Usually, there are no special preparations. You should:

  • Continue medications prescribed by your doctor unless informed otherwise
  • Wear comfortable clothing on the day of your exam
  • Notify us or your physician if you are or may be pregnant, or if you are breast feeding
Check with your physician or the MRI technologist if you have any of the following which may prevent you from undergoing an MRI exam:
  • Pacemaker
  • Brain aneurysm clips
  • Inner ear implant
  • Metal fragments in your eyes
  • Shrapnel in your body
  • Implanted spinal cord stimulator or drug infusion device
  • Other implanted device
  • History of adverse reaction to MRI contrast media
  • Asthma
  • Any renal disease, diabetes, or hypertension