Magnetic Resonance Imaging



Understanding MRI

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is one of the most technologically advanced diagnostic tools available. MRI uses a powerful magnet, low intensity radio frequency pulses and computer technology to create detailed images of the soft tissues, muscles, nerves and bones in your body. There are no known side effects of MRI, and it uses no radiation.

How MRI Scanners Work

The main component of the MRI scanner is a magnet. This magnet causes your body's hydrogen atoms to align themselves in such a way as to receive radio signals from the magnetic resonance system. When your body receives these signals, it reacts by sending its own radio signals back to the machine. It is this radio frequency transmitted by your body that is computer-processed and turned into highly detailed images.

Preparing for your Scan

Please print out, complete and bring this form with you to your appointment.
Safety Screening Form for Magnetic Resonance Imaging

In general, there are no special preparations to follow before your exam. Because MRI uses a strong magnetic field, metal objects may interfere with the scan. For your convenience, we provide a locker to store your keys, jewelry and other valuables during the exam. We ask that you wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing, but you may be asked to change into a hospital gown for image quality and safety reasons. The MRI suite at AOSM is kept cool, so blankets and socks are available if you should get too cold.

Please check the following list carefully. All metallic/surgical implants must be assessed for safety before undergoing any MRI procedure. Common implants that may not be safe for MRI procedures include the following:

  • Pacemaker
  • Aneurysm clips in the brain
  • Inner ear (cochlear) implants
  • Implanted spinal cord stimulator
  • Metallic implants
  • Metal fragments in one or both eyes

Also, please alert our staff if you:

  • Have dental bridges
  • Wear a hearing aid(s)
  • Have ever been a metal worker
  • Are pregnant or think you might be

Because a contrast agent may be used, please tell the staff if you:

  • Are pregnant or think you might be
  • Are breastfeeding
  • Have anemia or any diseases that affect red blood cells
  • Have asthma or other allergic respiratory disorders

During the Exam

While the MRI test is being conducted, you will lie on a scanning bed with the body part of interest placed in the center of the magnet. Often times, a family member or friend may accompany you during the exam. You also may bring a favorite CD, mp3 player, or Ipod, to listen to while the scan is being performed.

Your technologist will conduct the test from an adjacent room. You will be able to communicate with your technologist through a patient intercom system during the entire exam. You should remain relaxed and as still as possible. You will hear a knocking sound from the MRI system that ranges from barely audible to quite noticeable. Hearing protection or headphones will be provided when necessary. Most exams take 30-to-40 minutes to complete, and you may resume normal activities afterwards.