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MRI FAQs

What do doctors learn from an MRI?

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a safe, painless way for doctors to get a clear look at your internal anatomy. In fact, a scan may be the only way your doctor can get diagnostic information without surgery. The technology produces sharp computerized images of internal body tissues that can’t be viewed through x-rays. Doctors can request an MRI image for your brain, your knee, your spine, or just about any part of your body that needs diagnosis.


What is contrast?


Some MRI studies require contrast which is a fluid injected through a vein that shows up as bright on an MRI image. It helps our radiologists identify and characterize certain diseases. Not all MRI studies require contrast; this decision is made by your doctor and our radiologists. MRI contrast does not interfere with other medicines. You will be able drive yourself home after receiving contrast.


What can an MRI diagnose?

  • Aneurysms, stenosis, occlusions, and carotid arteries in the head and neck
  • Diseases of the central nervous system, including spinal cord deterioration, tumors of the brain, and multiple sclerosis
  • Condition of the heart, liver, kidney adrenal glands, male and female pelvis, and abdominal blood vessels
  • Disorders of bones, knees, and joints
  • Condition of cartilage, ligaments, bone, muscle, fat and menisci
  • Shoulder disorders, including impingement syndrome and rotator


What is an “Open” MRI?


Open refers to the equipment, which has a large, non-confining opening. The patient lies on a table with equipment on one side and overhead. Having unobstructed space on three sides allows a pleasant, non-claustrophobic exam. Not being confined in a “tunnel” is much more comfortable for most patients. 


Can a friend or family member be in the room with me during the exam?

In most cases, yes. However, please advise our staff if the guest is pregnant or has anything metallic in the body.


How long will the exam take?

Most non contrast exams can be completed in 15- 25 minutes. More time may be required if sedation is needed or if the study includes post contrast images.


Is it safe?

For most people, the MRI is completely safe. However, in most cases, pregnant women should not have MRI scans. Please let the staff know if you are pregnant. MRI does not use any type of radiation, but does produce a powerful magnetic field. To assure that you will have no adverse effects from the magnetism, the staff needs to find out if you have any metal in your body.

Please advise the staff if:

  • You have a cardiac pacemaker or artificial heart valve
  • You have a metal plate, pin, surgical staples or clips, or other metallic implant
  • You have aneurysm clips
  • You have an inner ear implant
  • You have an intrauterine device, such as Copper-T IUD
  • You have permanent eyeliner (tattoo)
  • You have any metal fragments in your eye or in your body
  • You have ever been a metal worker
  • You have a biostimulator

Also, if anyone accompanying you during the exam has any of these conditions, please bring it to the staff’s attention.


Can I drive home after the MRI?

Most patients do not require sedation and therefore are able to drive immediately after the exam. If you need a sedative to help you relax for the exam, please arrange for a friend or relative to drive you home.


How long does it take for my physician to get the results of the examination?


The radiologist will review and interpret your MRI examination upon completion. Within 24 hours, your physician will have a written report and copies of the film for visual inspection of the findings. If requested by your physicians, results may be reported sooner by telephone or fax.


How do I schedule an MRI scan?


Your doctor will decide if an MRI is needed to help diagnose your symptoms. The doctor’s staff or you can schedule an appointment. We will verify your health insurance coverage and obtain pre-certification with your health insurance carrier if necessary. If you do not have health insurance, payment is expected at the time of service.