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Preparing for an MRI Magnetic Resonance Imaging

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is perhaps most versatile, medical imaging technology available. MRIs allow doctors to receive highly refined images of the body's interior without surgery.

Strong magnets and pulses of radio waves are used to manipulate the natural magnetic properties in the body. This technique makes better images of organs and soft tissues than those of other scanning technologies and doesn't require radiation.

MRI is particularly useful for imaging the brain and spine, as well as the soft tissues of joints and the interior structure of bones. The entire body is visible to the technique, which poses few known health risks. The imaging is painless. The high field MRI surrounds the body like a hoop.


The use of a magnetic field presents some limitation. Before making a MRI appointment, let your doctor know about any of the following:

  • Pacemaker, defibrillator
  • If you are or may be pregnant
  • Brain aneurysm clips
  • Surgeries, especially of the brain, eye or ear
  • A gun wound or similar injury (shrapnel)
  • Inner ear implant
  • Metal plate, pin or other metallic implant
  • Permanent (tattooed) eye liner
  • Intrauterine device such as a copper-7 IUD
  • Ever been a metal worker (had metal in your eye, etc.)
  • Insulin pump or other infusion pump
  • Latex allergies or sensitivity
  • You are claustrophobic
  • Wear a medication patch (for example: pain, nicotine, hormone, etc.)

Patient experience

An imaging procedure typically lasts 30 to 60 minutes, depending on the type of information requested by your doctor. For the best quality image, you need to be as still as possible during the exam. Just relax, make yourself comfortable and breathe normally.

In some cases, you may be given a contrast agent which enhances the MRI image. We use only safe, FDA-approved contrast agents.

Your exam will be performed by a registered radiologic technologist. You will not feel anything. You will hear a drumming sound as the machine does its work and you will be able to hear a technologist throughout the exam.

During a child's exam, a parent may be in the room. When the exam is over, the technologist will assist you from the table and out of the room.

Patient preparation

For some MRI exams, you may be asked to refrain from eating or drinking three hours prior to your exam. Instructions will be given at time of scheduling. The majority of MRI exams require no special preparation. Eat normally and continue to take any medication prescribed by your doctor unless you have been given other instructions.

You will be asked to change your clothing and put on a hospital gown and robe,scrub pants may be given depending on the MRI exam being performed. You will be asked to leave all items containing metal, and cards with magnetic strips such as credit cards, outside the room. You may be asked to remove dentures.


Your MRI images will be interpreted by a board certified radiologist and the findings will be given to your doctor. Your doctor will contact you to share and discuss the results.

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