What to Expect
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Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a noninvasive, painless medical test that produces detailed images of the inside of your body. MRI uses a high-powered magnet, radio waves and computers to generate detailed images of your internal structures and organs. They are particularly useful in diagnosing tumors in the pelvic region.

What to expect:

Here's what you can expect, step by step, when you have an MRI.

Before the exam

  • Unless you are told otherwise, you may follow your regular daily eating and drinking routine and take medications as usual.
  • If you are receiving a contrast material orally or in an injection, the technologist will ask if you have allergies of any kind or any serious health problems.
  • Jewelry and other accessories should be left at home. Metals can interfere with the MRI unit.
  • You should tell the technologist if you have medical or electronic devices in your body, because they may interfere with the exam or potentially pose a risk.
  • Ask the center in advance if a family member or friend is allowed in the room with you.
  • Some patients experience claustrophobia from being in the tube. If you anticipate anxiety, ask your doctor for a sedative before your exam.

The exam

The MRI is housed in a large cylinder-shaped tube surrounded by a circular magnet. You will lie on a moveable table that slides into the center of the magnet. Some MRI units are designed so that the magnet does not completely surround you while others are open on all sides. The technologist will operate the MRI and monitor your examination from a separate windowed room, but you'll be in two-way communication with the technologist the entire time.

  • Wear loose fitting clothing that has no metal fasteners, but you may be asked to wear a gown during the exam.
  • The technologist begins by positioning you on the moveable examination table.
  • Transmitters may be placed around the area of the body being studied.
  • Bolsters or straps may help you keep you completely still.
  • You will be moved into the magnet of the MRI unit.
  • The scanner is air-conditioned and well lit. You may request earplugs or the scanner may have music piped in.
  • If a contrast material is used during the examination, it will be injected into an intravenous line (IV) after an initial series of scans. You may feel a cool flush from the IV for a few minutes. Additional series of images will be taken following the injection.
  • The MRI scanner makes loud thumping noises during imaging. It records images for a few seconds or a few minutes at a time. It is important that you are completely still while the images are being taken.
  • The entire examination is usually completed within 45 to 60 minutes.
  • You may resume your usual activities and normal diet immediately after the exam.
  • Your primary care or referring physician will receive a copy of the images and test report and will discuss the results with you.