Magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, uses a strong magnetic field and radio waves to provide clear and detailed diagnostic images of internal body organs and tissues. MRI is a valuable tool for the diagnosis of a broad range of conditions, including:

  • Cancer
  • Heart and vascular disease
  • Stroke
  • Joint and musculoskeletal disorders

MRI allows evaluation of some body structures that may not be visible with any other diagnostic imaging methods.

How should I prepare for an MRI?

  • Before your MRI exam, remove all accessories including hair pins, jewelry, eyeglasses, hearing aids, wigs, dentures.  During the exam, these metal objects may interfere with the magnetic field, affecting the quality of the MRI images taken.
  • Notify your technologist if you have:
    • any artificial joints – hip, knee
    • a heart pacemaker, defibrillator or artificial heart valve
    • an intrauterine device (IUD),
    • any metal plates, pins, screws, or surgical staples in your body
    • tattoos and permanent make-up
    • a bullet or shrapnel in your body, or if you ever worked with sheet metal or milling.
    • if you might be pregnant or suspect you may be pregnant.
    • if you are claustrophobic. Some patients are more comfortable with the use of a sedative.

What should I expect during this procedure?

Depending on how many images are needed, the exam generally takes 15 to 45 minutes. However, very detailed studies may take longer.

  • You will lie down on a sliding table and be comfortably positioned.
  • Even though the technologist must leave the room, you will be able to communicate with them at any time using an intercom.
  • If necessary, many MRI centers allow a friend or family member to stay in the room with you during the exam. 
  • You will be asked remain still during the actual imaging process. However, between sequences, which last between 2-15 minutes, slight movement is allowed.
  • Depending on the part of the body being examined, intravenous contrast material may be used to enhance the visibility of certain tissues or blood vessels. If this need is planned or anticipated, an IV will be placed in your hand or arm before the scan.