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An MRI examination involves the use of a very strong magnet. For your safety, when you arrive in MRI you will be asked to fill out a safety screen questionnaire. Should you need assistance completing this form, technologists will be available to assist you.
Most MRI exams require no preparation. However for some types of scans you may be asked to not eat or drink for 4 hours prior to your test. Your doctor's office will let you know if this is necessary.
You should take any medication you would normally take as directed by your doctor. Please let your technologist know what medications you are currently taking. If you are taking medications to relax you, please have someone with you to drive you home after your MRI.
Note: If you have had recent exams to diagnose this same or a similar problem at another facility, it would be helpful for the radiologist to see those exams. If available, please bring prior studies with you.
Most MRI exams are scheduled in either 40 minute or 1 hour appointments. If you are having more than one MRI exam the same day, each exam will be scheduled in a separate appointment slot.
When you arrive for your exam you will be asked to complete a questionnaire about your previous medical history and the reason for the visit. A technologist will review this information with you and answer any questions you might have about the MRI. You will then be escorted to a dressing room to change from street clothes to a hospital gown and allowed to lock your possessions in a locker (if at all possible please leave valuables at home).
After the technologist discusses the exam with you and answers any questions that you might have, you will be escorted into the scan room.
After the technologist discusses the exam with you and answers any questions that you might have, you will be escorted into the scan room. There, you will be positioned, reclined, on a special cushioned table that will move you through the scanner during your exam. A special piece of equipment called a surface coil, which is like a radio antenna, may be placed on the part of your body to be imaged.
The technologist will then leave the room. However, at all times, the technologist can both see and hear you and you will be given a call button in the very unlikely case of an emergency.
MRI sequences will then begin. The exam consists of several different sequences that vary in length and the type of sound they make. The technologist will tell you how long each sequence will be and will remind you to lie as still as possible. Some MRI exams have a few short sequences during which you will be asked to hold your breath. These "breath holds" last from 10 to 20 seconds.
You will be aware of a "knocking" noise. This is the sound of the magnet working to generate images. Hearing protection will be provided.
You should expect to be in the scanner between 40 minutes to an hour and one half. After the exam, the technologist will help you off the table and escort you back to the locker area where you can change back into your clothes.
The films will first be viewed by a radiologist, a physician specializing in analyzing these exams. The radiologist will then send a report to your own doctor. You should ask your doctor to discuss the results with you.