Frequently Asked Questions – MRI

What is an MRI?

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses a magnetic field and radio waves to create detailed images of the soft tissues and organs in your body. The magnetic field temporarily aligns the water molecules in your body and radio waves cause these aligned particles to produce very faint electrical signals. These signals are used to create the MRI images. The powerful system delivers images with the diagnostic clarity that physicians need.

What should I do to prepare for my MRI?

No special preparation is required prior to your MRI exam. You may eat normally and go about your daily routine. Continue to take any medication prescribed by your doctor unless otherwise directed. We recommend that you wear comfortable clothing. You may also be asked to remove makeup and dentures and to wear a hospital gown to avoid magnetic interference from belt buckles and zippers.

Are there Skin Care items I should avoid applying prior to my MRI?

Due to possible skin sensitivity, burning and or reddening of the skin, it is recommended that you do not apply any of the following skin care items prior to your MRI procedure:

  • Topical analgesic ointments, creams, lotions, gels, or sprays (examples: Tiger Balm, Ben Gay, BioFreeze). Products with herbal ingredients should also be avoided.
  • Sunscreen
  • Body lotions and creams with or without fragrance

What should I avoid wearing/bringing to my MRI appointment?

Because of the magnetic field, you are not allowed to bring the following items in to the MRI room:

  • Coins
  • Jewelry
  • Watches
  • Glasses
  • Credit cards
  • Hearing aids
  • Transdermal patches
  • Nicotine patches
  • Keys
  • Hair pins
  • Cell phones
  • Underwire bras
  • Clothing with zippers, grommets, pins, or metal snaps
  • Metallic make-up
  • Other metal objects

For your safety and convenience a locker and key is provided in the dressing room for your belongings. After changing and or removing any prohibited items, you will lock your locker and bring the key with you. Before entering the MRI room the Technologist will have you place the key in a basket just outside the MRI room.

Because of the potentially harmful effects associated with some metallic objects in a magnetic field, you should check with your physician or MRI technologist if you have had any brain, ear, eye, or other surgeries or any of the following:

  • Pacemaker
  • Neurostimulator (TENS-unit)
  • Metal implants
  • Intrauterine device (IUD), etc.
  • Aneurysm clips
  • Surgical staples
  • Implanted drug infusion device
  • Foreign metal objects in the eye
  • Shrapnel or bullet wounds
  • Implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD)
  • Cochlear implant(s)
  • Prostheses within your body
  • Body piercings, tattoos, permanent eyeliner

Can I have an MRI if I am pregnant?

If you are pregnant we will require written authorization from your referring physician explaining the need for MRI exam. Please complete our Pregnancy Consent form.

What if the patient does not speak English?

Non-English speaking patients will need to provide a translator at their own expense.

A few of our medical forms are available in Spanish and be found on the Forms page.

What happens during the MRI procedure?

While the MRI is being conducted, you will lie on a cushioned table while the technologist conducts the test from an adjacent room. Once you are situated on the table, make sure you are comfortable so that it is easy to keep still. You will be provided pillows, blanket, earplugs, and headphones. Breathe normally, and try to remain as relaxed and still as possible. If there is anything before or during the procedure that makes you uncomfortable, please let us know.

You may feel a tingling sensation on your skin, this is normal and the feeling will subside shortly after the MRI procedure.

You will hear several different types of sounds during the scanning process that represents the changes in the magnetic field that are part of the imaging process. Once the exam is over, the technologist will assist you out of the scan room. Our staff will do everything they can to make sure that your MRI experience is a pleasant one.

In certain instances, a contrast agent may be administered to enhance the study. If your procedure requires contrast you will be asked to sign a consent form. There are no extra precautions if your doctor requires this. The patient will be asked prior to scheduling if he/she is has known liver disease, kidney disease or sickle cell anemia. The patient may be required to take a blood test prior to scan, used to calculate the eGFR (creatine level). If blood work is needed it must be completed within a 30 day window of the MRI procedure. Consult the doctor or technologist if you have any questions.

How long does the MRI procedure last?

The procedure typically will last anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes, depending on the type of scan required by your physician. You just need to be as still as possible during the exam. In fact, some patients fall asleep during the MRI exam.

A technologist will be able to see you at all times. For your convenience, an intercom system is built in, so that if you need anything, the technologist will be right there. There is also a patient emergency squeeze ball to alert your technologist, if necessary.

Can I eat before my MRI?

You may eat normally and go about your daily routine before your MRI. Continue to take any medication prescribed by your doctor unless otherwise directed.

I’m very claustrophobic. What can I do?

Our Open MRI system helps relieve anxieties of many of our patients who are uncomfortable in enclosed spaces. Open MRI offers more space and allows you to relax. However, if you anticipate that a high level of anxiety might prevent you from undergoing your MRI exam, please ask your doctor to prescribe medication for you to take the day of your exam to help you relax. If you need to take medication to help you relax, you will be required to have a responsible person drive you to and from your MRI appointment.