Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is an imaging diagnostic system using radio waves, a magnetic field, and a computer to produce images of the body. An MRI displays images of the body in “slices” similar to that of a CT scan, but it is also able to reflect greater contrast between different types of body tissues. Magnetic resonance imaging is one of the advanced imaging techniques utilized at Prime Radiology to view precise details of the head, neck, spine, muscles, joints and bones. It is also used to image the chest, abdomen and pelvis. Frequently, the differentiation of abnormal (diseased) tissue from normal tissues is better with MRI than with other imaging modalities such as x-ray, CT and ultrasound.
MR Imaging does not utilize ionizing radiation. In some instances, contrast agents, such as gadolinium, are used to enhance certain anatomical structures and increase the diagnostic accuracy of the images. The image and resolution produced by MRI is quite detailed and can detect tiny changes of structures within the body.
For more information on special MRI exams, please click the link below:
How Should I Prepare?
Prior to your appointment, you will receive specific instructions concerning your exam. Most exams require no special preparation, but a few studies such as MRCP and MR enterography, require 4 hours of fasting. If you have any questions, feel free to call our facility.
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 items are not allowed in the exam room. These items include:
- jewelry, watches, credit cards and hearing aids, all of which can be damaged
- pins, hairpins, metal zippers and similar metallic items, which can distort MRI images
- removable dental work
- pens, pocket knives and eyeglasses
- body piercings
In most cases, an MRI exam is safe for patients with metal implants, except for a few types. People with the following implants cannot be scanned and should not enter the MRI scanning area:
- cochlear (ear) implant
- some types of clips used for brain aneurysms
- some types of metal coils placed within blood vessels
- nearly all cardiac defibrillators and pacemakers
Please bring any paperwork or identification cards for any implanted devices that you may have. We specifically need to be informed of any of the following:
- Cardiac Pacemakers
- Nerve stimulators or infusion pumps
- Metal ear implants
- Aneurysm clips or coils
- Vascular stents
- Penile implants
- History of metal in or around the eyes
- Retained bullet fragments or schrapnel
Occasionally, we may need to obtain x-rays to further evaluate some of the above implants or retained metal.
Please print and fill out our Patient Screening form and MRI Contrast consent form and bring with you to your appointment.
What Should I Expect?
When you arrive at our imaging center, you will be asked to complete a history sheet informing us of any significant medical and surgical history unless you printed it out from our website. Since the MRI machine is a large magnet, informing us of any implanted devices, non-removed bullet fragments, or shrapnel is very important. You should also let the radiologist know if you have any serious health problems, or if you have had any recent surgeries. Some conditions, such as severe kidney disease, may prevent you from being given gadolinium contrast for an MRI. If you have a history of kidney disease or liver transplant, it will be necessary to perform a blood test to determine whether the kidneys are functioning adequately.
Depending on your clothing, you may be asked to change into a gown to ensure that you are “metal-free.” Once the technologist or Radiologist has cleared you for safe entry into the MRI suite, you will lie flat on the MRI table and a piece of equipment called a “coil” will be placed on your body over the area of interest to assist with obtaining high-resolution images. An intravenous line will be placed if your exam needs to be performed with contrast.
Most of our examinations take 20 minutes or less to complete, with a few taking up to 30 minutes. During this time, you will be in continuous contact with our MRI technologist in case you encounter any problems.
Some patients have a condition called claustrophobia (the fear of small or enclosed spaces) and may have concerns about having an MRI. If you have this condition, you may have to reschedule to an Open Bore machines, however only about 1 in 25 patients have this issue. Please be sure to notify us ahead of time if you have claustrophobia and we will make sure more time is allowed to introduce you to the MRI equipment and get you comfortable for the exam. Some patients with concern of claustrophobia may have their physician prescribe a mild sedative. You will need to ask your physician to prescribe this medication and you will need to bring it with you. If you choose to take a medication, please inform us and be sure to bring someone with you to drive you home after the exam.