What is an MRI Scan?
Magnetic resonance imaging, commonly known as MRI is a medical test that aids physicians in diagnosis and treating medical conditions. This is a noninvasive and typically painless test.

In contrast to the more common X-Ray that uses ionizing radiation, MRI uses a strong magnetic field, radio waves and a computer. This enables MRI to make very detailed pictures of bone, organs, soft tissues and any other body structures. The physician can then view the pictures on the computer for further evaluation.

How Is MRI Performed?
An MRI test is typically done on an outpatient basis and can typically be completed from 20 to 60 minutes per exam depending on the body part examined, complexity of the study and whether or not contrast material is utilized.

Patients are positioned on a moveable exam table. A device called a coil containing small components that send and receive radio waves may be placed around the portion of the body being examined. If the patient’s particular procedure requires a contrast injection then the MRI technologist will insert an IV line into a vein in the hand or arm. MRI contrast is used for some exams to for example better highlight the blood vessels or internal organs such as the liver. The exam table will be gently moved into the MRI machine and the technologist will go to an adjacent room where they can perform the test while observing the patient through a window. The MRI technologist will be able to communicate with the patient through a sound system at any time. In addition, the patient will be given headphones and will be able to listen to the type of music of their choice throughout their procedure or bring their own music CD's if they choose to do so.

How Should I Prepare for My MRI?
Patients should wear comfortable clothes that are easy to change as they may be asked to wear a gown for their procedure. You may also be asked to remove any jewelry, hearing aids, eyeglasses or metal objects. Our staff will give any special dietary or medication instructions ahead of time if they are necessary.

Safety is our #1 priority! Patients are required to fill out and sign a medical history and safety questionnaire prior to their exam. It is important to screen patients for mechanical, electronic, or metallic implants. Cardiac pacemakers, intracranial aneurysm clips, permanent inner ear implants are almost always contraindicated for MRI procedures. Many implantable devices are safe but need to be checked and approved ahead of time. The physician and or MRI technologist should be made aware of any serious health problems, previous surgeries, or possibility of pregnancy. The patient should also inform the technologist of any allergies, specific to MRI contrast, particularly if a prior reaction required medical attention in the past. An allergy to CT scan contrast is completely different and does not prevent a patient from receiving MRI contrast. If a patient has a history of decreased kidney function, recent lab work may be required prior to their MRI to determine if contrast can be safely administered. We are also equipped to perform this test in our imaging department if necessary.

What if I’m Nervous About Having The Exam?
Most patient’s have no problem with having an MRI examination. It’s reassuring to know that our technologists are always only a few steps away and can always hear the patient. A squeeze ball is also provided to every patient which they can use to get the technologist’s attention in case they are unable to communicate verbally.

A small subset of individuals is prone to requiring a little extra help due to nervousness.We offer oral and intravenous sedation to help these patients relax. These techniques can make a nervous patient feel completely at relaxed and we frequently hear from some patients that they were able to go through the exam at our facility with ease because of these occasionally necessary techniques. When a patient receives sedation we require them to be accompanied by an adult who will be their “designated driver”. While the sedatives we are use are short acting, we wouldn’t want to let a sedated patient get on the road until the effects have completely resolved.