Very Little Preparation Needed
What to Expect
MRI procedures are approximately 30-45 minutes in length dependent upon the type of examination and patient comfort.
The MRI machine looks like a large cylindrical magnet, open at both ends for maximum comfort, with a padded table attached to it. Depending on the exam, an IV solution called contrast may be administered. Click here to learn more about MRI with contrast. The technologist will position you on the table according to what part of the body is being scanned. When you are comfortable, the table will move into the tube-shaped scanner and the technologist will leave the room.
The technologist can see, hear, and speak to you at all times while you are in the scanner. Once in the scanner, it is very important that you lay very still while the images are being recorded. This usually lasts for between a couple of seconds and a couple of minutes at a time. The technologist will tell you when the images are about to be recorded. Try to lay as still as possible while recording (for some exams you may be asked to hold your breath), though you will be able to relax between imaging sessions while still maintaining your position as much as possible.
While recording the MRI produces loud humming and thumping noises. We offer earplugs to reduce noise during the exam. After the exam is over you can immediately resume your regular activities and diet.
Before your scan, continue with your normal diet and continue any doctor prescribed medications, unless informed otherwise.
It’s best not to eat or drink anything for 4 – 6 hours before the scan.
Dress in comfortable, loose fitting clothing that has no metal fasteners, or you may be asked to change into a provided gown. Jewelry and other accessories should be left at home if possible, or removed prior to the MRI scan. Because they can interfere with the magnetic field of the MRI unit, metal and electronic objects are not allowed in the exam room. These items include:
- Jewelry, watches, credit cards and hearing aids
- Pins, hairpins, metal zippers and similar metallic items
- Removable dental work
- Pens, pocketknives and eyeglasses
- Body piercings
If you have a pacemaker or other implant, please call our office immediately so we can assess if an MRI is right for you.
- Brain Aneurysm Clips
- A Pacemaker of Pacing Wires
- Metal fragments in one or both eyes
- Inner Ear Implants
- Implanted Spinal Cord Stimulator or Brain Stimulator
- Tooth fillings and braces usually are not affected by the magnetic field but they may distort images of the facial area or brain, so the radiologist should be aware of them.
Bring Your Medical History
- You will be asked questions about allergies, past surgeries, and other medical history.
- Women should inform their technologist if there is any possibility of pregnancy.
Overcoming your fear of an MRI
If you are afraid of being in tight spaces (claustrophobic) or are unfamiliar with what happens during an MRI, you may be a bit nervous about your upcoming procedure. However, learning these facts about having an MRI should help to reduce your anxiety:
You’re not closed in
Although your head and upper body will likely go inside the MRI machine, you will never be entirely closed in. If you look above your head, you can clearly see out one end of the machine, and if you look toward your feet, you will see that the other end is open, too. More than likely, the lower part of your body will lie entirely outside the machine. You’ll have light, and air.
Inside the MRI machine, you will find a light and a fan. Before your procedure, you will be offered earplugs.
You’re in constant touch with staff.
You can easily communicate with the MRI technologist while you are inside the machine — and he or she can communicate back to you. In addition, the MRI tech will be able to see you throughout the scan.
You can receive a mild sedative.
Most people can complete an MRI without the need for a sedative to help them relax. However, if you are extremely fearful about having your MRI, talk with your doctor about getting a prescription medicine to take the day of your procedure. If you’re going to take a sedative, keep in mind that you will need to arrange for someone to drive you to and from your MRI appointment. Note that you must take the sedative before you arrive. You cannot wait to take it right before or during the procedure, because it takes at least an hour for the medication to take effect.
You can choose another relaxing touch.
For many people, there is nothing like a moist, cool cloth over the eyes and forehead to help them relax. We’ll offer you this low-tech, but extremely comforting, option.
A friend or family member can be nearby.
You are welcome to bring a friend or family member into the scanning room with you. He or she can be there throughout your procedure.
The MRI staff is there to help.
Our staff will be glad to discuss any concerns you have before your procedure to help you with how to prepare for an MRI and to offer alternatives, if any are available. If at any time during your scan you feel absolutely unable to continue, your MRI tech will stop the procedure and remove you from the scanner.