Quick, painless, and accurate, MRIs excel at detecting a range of conditions. Learn about the science, the benefits, and the experience.
What is an MRI?
MRI—or Magnetic Resonance Imaging—is a commonly used, safe, and advanced diagnostic imaging exam. Using a strong magnetic field and radio waves, the MRI machine captures a detailed cross-section of specific organs and tissues, giving your doctor a clear picture of what’s happening in your body.
MRIs help doctors diagnose a range of conditions and abnormalities. For example, the machines can detect damage in soft tissues like organs, cartilage, and muscles that can’t be seen in X-rays. If your physician opts for an MRI, here’s the first thing you should know: this procedure is not invasive.
These donut-shaped machines take pictures of certain parts of your body while you lie very still. When you enter the room, you’ll lie down on a movable bed that slides into the machine for the right positioning. We may give you a gown to wear and the scans can take anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour. The machines can be pretty noisy, so we will provide you with earplugs or headphones to make you more comfortable.
Unlike other imaging techniques, MRIs do not use radiation. Since MRI technology uses magnets, we ask that you remove all jewelry and metal before the exam.
In some cases, we’ll need to use a contrast dye called gadolinium to better see certain parts of the body. This can be administered either orally or intravenously. If you need contrast for your examination our team will give you more information at the time of scheduling.
Having to lie still in an MRI can be uncomfortable or stressful for some people. If you’re prone to claustrophobia, tell your doctor as they may choose to prescribe an anti-anxiety medication to take before arriving to help keep you relaxed during the scan.
We want to make sure you feel as comfortable as possible, so if you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to ask. As powerful and insightful as MRIs are, they’re not the right option for every patient and every situation. Your doctor will decide on a case-by-case basis if MRI is the right diagnostic method for you.
After your exam, we’ll help you gather your belongings and you’re free to go home.
Our radiologists will assess and interpret the images and send a report to your physician that same day. Your physician’s team will then take time to review the information and speak with you directly about your imaging results.