Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a method of looking inside the body. Instead of X-rays, the MRI scanner uses magnetism and radio waves to produce remarkably clear pictures of your head, spine, or other parts of your body. An MRI scanner consists of a strong magnet with a radio transmitter and receiver. These instruments gather the information out of your body. MRI produces soft-tissue images and is used to distinguish normal, healthy soft tissue from pathologic tissue.

Depending on what information your doctor needs, the MRI scan may require the use of a contrast-agent given intravenously to assist in visualization of certain structures in your body.

Do I Need to Take Any Precautions When Having an MRI?

Magnetic Resonance Imaging is a non-invasive and safe test. As Magnetic Resonance Imaging works with a strong magnet and radio waves, you need to tell us, if anything of the following applies to you or the person that accompanies you into the exam room:

  • Aneurysm clip(s)
  • Cardiac pacemaker
  • Implanted cardioverter defibrillator (ICD)
  • Magnetically-activated implant or device
  • Electronic implant or device
  • Neurostimulation system
  • Spinal cord stimulator
  • Insulin or infusion pump
  • Any type of prosthesis or implant Implanted drug infusion device
  • Artificial or prosthetic limb
  • Any metallic fragment or foreign body
  • Hearing aid
  • Any external or internal metallic object
  • Cochlear implant or implanted hearing aid

Any metallic substance on you can affect the quality of the diagnostic images. It can also cause discomfort or even injury to you when placed into the metallic field.

Also, tell us if you are pregnant.

How Do I Prepare for an MRI?

No special preparation is needed prior to the exam, unless your doctor has given you other instructions. You will be asked to complete a safety screening form and answer questions pertaining to your medical history. Please wear loose clothing without zippers or metallic parts. Remove all jewelry, watches, hairpins, glasses, wallets and other metallic objects.

What Happens During an MRI Scan?

After you have removed all metal objects, the technologist will position you on a special table. Your head will be placed in a padded plastic cradle or on a pillow, and the table will then slide into the scanner. The MAGNETOM Espree 1.5 Tesla Open Bore MRI system makes scanning extremely comfortable and convenient for the patient. Thanks to MAGNETOM Espree's remarkably short 125 cm magnet, over 60 percent typical MRI exams can be done with the patients head outside of the Open Bore. Anyway you will be able to communicate with the technologist during the scan.

For clear pictures, you will be asked to hold very still and relax. In some cases, you will be asked to hold your breath. Any movement, especially of your head or back (even moving your jaw to talk) during the scan will seriously blur the pictures. While the machine is taking your pictures, you will hear rapidly repeating, thumping noises coming from the walls of the scanner, earplugs may be provided. During this time, you should breathe quietly and normally but otherwise refrain from any movement, coughing or wiggling. When the thumping noise stops, you must refrain from changing your position or moving about. This whole procedure will usually be repeated several times, and the entire exam ordinarily takes between 15 and 30 minutes to complete.

What Happens Next?

An experienced Main Line Health radiologist will analyze your MRI images and send a report to your referring physician, who will inform you on your test results. Results cannot be given directly to the patient or family.