Below is educational information for patients who may need an MRI.
What is an MRI?
A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan uses powerful magnetic fields and radio waves to take detailed pictures of organs, blood vessels, and structures inside your body. It does not use X-rays, radiation, or radioactive materials. To ensure you can safely have an MRI, you will be asked to fill out a consent form and questionnaire about your health and medical history.
Things you cannot have during an MRI:
- Any metallic objects or implants (heart valves or stents)
- Dentures, hearing aids, and hair pins
- Pacemaker/AICD (some are MRI-safe, so check with your doctor first)
What should you expect?
An MRI does not hurt. The scanner is a short cylinder that opens at both ends. You will lie still on a padded motorized table that gently glides you into the scanner. The radiology technician will be in the next room, but they will be able to see and hear you. You will be able to speak to them through an intercom. You may hear noises such as tapping, humming, or clicking, which is normal. It is important for you to relax and lie still during the exam. If you are claustrophobic, your physician may prescribe a mild sedative to help relax you.
What is contrast dye?
Your MRI scan may be ordered with or without contrast dye. The use of contrast dye will allow certain areas to show up better on the scan and give a better picture. Depending on what your physician is looking for in the scan, you may be given intravenous (IV) or oral contrast dye. If ordered with IV contrast, a radiology tech will inject your IV with a dye just prior to the MRI scan.
If ordered with oral contrast you will be given the contrast to drink and the doctor may tell you not to eat or drink anything for 4–6 hours prior to the MRI scan.