Frequently Asked Questions

For most exams, there is no special preparation.  However, if you are having a specialized exam such as an MR enterography, there may be special preparation necessary such as drinking certain contrast media to better optimize the exam and answer the clinical question at hand for the referring physician.  Also, sometimes we will inject a joint such as a shoulder, hip, or wrist prior to imaging in order to better distend the joint and illustrate the tiny structures that are being evaluated. This is called an MRI arthrogram.  If you are scheduled for an MR arthrogram, you will received an injection from a radiologist just prior to receiving your MRI. 
MRI is contraindicated for patients that have metal fragments in or near vital structures.  If someone has worked with metal in the past, it is important to let the technologists and referring physician know, so that an x-ray can be performed to look for small metal fragments.  Also, if you have a pacemaker or spine stimulator device, most of those are contra-indications to getting an MRI, however, there are some newer models that are compatible for MRI.  If you have a device implanted, it is important to know the make and model so that it can be check for MRI compatibility.

Most of the newer aneurysm coils and clips are MRI compatible, but it is important to have documentation specifying the make and model used, and whether it is MRI compatible.  

MRI is an important problem solving tool, but it is very reliant on many physical properties of your body and magnets.  Sometimes, complimentary exams such an x-rays and ultrasounds are asked for in conjunction with the MRI to arrive at the most accurate diagnosis. 
MRI is a very powerful magnet that cannot be turned off.  We ask that you take off jewelry and leave your credit cards and valuables outside of the magnet.  We will provide a safe place to store them during your exam. 
You can arrive with your oxygen to the imaging facility, however, we use special MRI compatible oxygen tanks and devices that are approved for use in the strong magnetic field.  You can still get an MRI, but will need to leave your own personal oxygen outside the magnet field and use the provided oxygen supply. 
If you are nervous or anxious about the MRI machine, we can provide sedation with a benzodiazepine, such as valium.  Most exams are 30 minutes and the more calm you are, the better the images come out, and the better the diagnosis can be!  There are various types of magnets and sizes, so if you are over 300lbs or very nervous/claustrophobic, it may be a good idea to let the scheduler know ahead of time, so that you can be scheduled into the appropriate magnet, or so that the radiologist can be aware and can adjust a protocol accordingly and/or order the appropriate medication. 
Most exams take about 30 minutes, but if you are having multiple exams, it may be longer.  The MRI has various magnets and coils.  Some parts of your exam will be loud.  We provide ear plugs so dampen the sound.  Some MRIs require contrast, so you may have an IV started prior to the exam.  We ask that you just breath normally and stay relaxed in the magnet, and will do our best to help you have a pleasant experience while receiving your exam.  You will be able to talk to the MRI technologists, who will be watching you the entire time you are in the magnet and can talk to you while you are being scanned.