What is an MRI?

MRI is an abbreviation for Magnetic Resonance Imaging. An MRI is a machine that uses a magnetic field and radio waves to create detailed images of the body. This information is then sent to a computer that processes all the signals and generates a 3D image for detailed information.

How is an MRI different from other tests like X-Ray and CT?

While X-Ray machines produce detailed images of dense materials, such as bones, MRI is better for producing images of soft tissues like the brain and those surrounding the spinal cord. And, unlike CT scans which use X-Rays, MRI scans use powerful magnetic fields and radio frequency pulses to produce even clearer images.

How is this test performed?

You will be asked to lie down on a bed that slowly moves into the MRI, which is a long, donut-shaped machine. During the MRI, you can relax and lie comfortably. You may hear a loud knocking noise, which is from the magnets turning on and off. If you think the noise will bother you, you may wear earplugs or ask the nurse to play some music of your choice. Some MRI
scans will require a dye/contrast injection.
In these cases, an IV is placed and the dye is injected while the scanner takes pictures.

Do I need to do anything to prepare for this test?

In most cases, there is very little you will need to do to prepare for your MRI test. You will likely be asked to change into a hospital gown and remove your jewelry, credit cards, cell phones and any metallic objects from your body. Since MRIs involve magnets, any of those objects could lead to poor image quality. Also, please let your technician know if you are wearing hearing aids since the MRI can damage them.

When will I receive my results?

Once the test is completed, your physician will review the results. If your appointment is the same day as your test, your physician may review them with you at that time. Otherwise, most test results are reviewed with you at your next scheduled appointment.

What are the risks?

There is little to no risk associated with MRI for most patients. Unlike CT scanning or general X-ray tests, no ionizing radiation is involved. It is important, however, that you notify your technician or doctor if you have any type of implant. MRI may not be appropriate for you if you have any of the following:

- Pacemaker
- Metal shrapnel
- Metal implants
- Recent surgery (plates, screws,
other metals)
- Permanent eyeliner
- Tattoos
- Aneurysm clips
- Pregnancy

If you suspect that you may have an implant or other condition that may interfere with the MRI, please discuss it with your doctor. Please notify the technician if you are pregnant.

Will it be painful?

MRI is a painless and non-invasive diagnostic test. You may experience minor discomfort if you have a sensitive injury.