MRI FAQ's

Q. What does MRI stand for?

A. Magnetic Resonance Imaging.

Q. How is MRI different from a CT or an x-ray?

A. Unlike x-ray exams, MRI does not use ionizing (x-ray) radiation. Instead, MRI creates high-quality images through the combination of a high-strength magnetic field, radio waves and a special computer.

Q. What body parts can the MRI scanner evaluate?

A. In general, physicians use the MRI scanner to examine one area of the body at a time. The scanner can take pictures of the head, neck, back, abdomen, pelvis, shoulder, elbow, knee, ankle, foot, blood vessels and more. MRI is particularly good at distinguishing soft tissues such as imaging the brain, spinal cord and joint structures.

Q. How long does the exam take?

A. Exams can take approximately 25 minutes or more, depending on the area being scanned. The time is broken up into “scan sequences” that can last from 2 to 6 minutes each.

Q. Why is it so important to remove any metallic objects before I enter the MRI scanning room?

A. MRIs create pictures by using a strong magnetic field combined with radio waves. Because of this magnetic field, it’s important that you remove all metal and alert ODC associates during scheduling of prior surgeries and/or the presence of electrical or metallic objects in your body. Standard dental work is fine.

Q. Will there be a problem if I have had surgery in which metal has been implanted?

A. Please be sure to inform your technologist of any prior surgeries prior to your exam. Patients with a pacemaker or certain types of aneurysm clips should not have an MRI.

Q. What does the scanner look like?

A. The appearance of the scanner depends on a number of variables including the type of scanner and the manufacturer. In general, our high-field, short-bore scanners resemble a large tube. A table lies inside the opening of the tube, called the bore. You will lie on the table and it will slowly move into the bore where the images are captured.

Q.  Is there any risk?

A. An MRI is very safe. There are no health risks associated with the magnetic field or the radio waves used by the machine nor have any side effects been reported.

Q. May I have an MRI exam when I am pregnant or breastfeeding?

A. While an MRI scan has no known side effects, it is not recommended for pregnant women unless it is medically indicated. If you are breastfeeding and have contrast as part of your exam, please suspend nursing for 24 hours after the exam.

Q. Why is the scanner so noisy?

A. The scanner works with strong magnetic fields, which builds up energy. The energy is released as loud knocking and buzzing sounds. Your center will offer headphones to minimize the noise.