MRI is one of the most significant advances in medical imaging. It allows physicians to see inside the human body with remarkable detail.
MRI does not use X-rays to create images. Instead, it combines magnetic fields with radiowaves and uses specially designed computers to produce detailed images of internal body structures. While X-rays may be best for showing bones, physicians use MRI to examine "soft" tissue such as muscle, nerves, cartilage, ligaments, tendons, vertebral discs, and various internal organs.
The technologist will escort you to the MRI suite where you will be asked a series of screening questions prior to the MRI exam. Although MRI is an advanced imaging technique, the exam itself is relatively easy and comfortable. You will be asked to lie on a cushioned table. A device called an imaging coil will be placed over or under you. When you are comfortably positioned, the table will move into the open magnet.
From the control area, the technologist will stay in constant contact with you, both visually and through an intercom. You will be asked to remain still for 2-10 minutes at a time while images are obtained. As the exam begins you will hear a variety of muffled thumping or clicking sounds. These sounds are normal and should not be cause for concern. Other than the muted sounds, MRI usually produces no bodily sensations.
Depending on your study, the technologist or nurse may place an intravenous (IV) line through which a MRI contrast agent will be given.
Most MRI exams last between 30 to 60 minutes.
If you are having an MRI or MRA of the abdomen or pelvis, please abstain from food and drink for up to 8 hours prior to your study. There are no food restrictions for other MRI studies. You should however, avoid coffee and other caffeinated beverages for all MRI studies since you will be required to lie still for several minutes at a time.
Wear loose, comfortable clothing such as a sweatshirt and sweatpants on the day of your exam. If possible, avoid clothing with metallic objects such as zippers, snaps and grommets as metal may interfere with the imaging process. If you must wear clothing with metal, hospital gowns will be provided. Make-up and hairsprays should also be avoided. Before your test, you will be asked to remove all metallic objects, such as eyeglasses, jewelry, wristwatches, etc.
Please advise the technologist if you have any of the following:
Depending on the type of exam, you may receive an injection of contrast material. If you are allergic to any medications, are diabetic, or have renal disease, please tell your doctor, the radiologist or the technologist.
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