An MRI is a non-invasive medical test that stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging. This simply means it uses powerful magnets, radio waves, and a computer to make detailed pictures inside your body. An MRI is typically used to diagnose any abnormalities inside your body. Unlike X-ray or CT scans, MRI does not use any damaging radiation and is safe for most patients after being screened for metal implants in your body. Most metal implants are MRI safe, with the exception of a pacemaker and some others implants. (Please see a list of possible metal implants). You will be thoroughly screened for metal implants prior to your MRI. Please bring any written documentation of implants with you to MRI.
Before you arrive for your MRI appointment, there is little preparation and there is no food or medicine restriction. On the day of your test, it is helpful to wear loose, comfortable clothing that doesn’t have snaps, zippers, sequences or metal fasteners. We have a spacious locker room that you will have private access to if you wish to bring non-metal clothing and change prior to your MRI. You will also be asked to lock up all personal items before going into the MRI room, because the magnets can damage such items such as cell phone, credit cards, watches, hearing aids, keys and jewelry.
When you arrive at your MRI appointment, please have picture ID, Insurance card and form of payment (if applicable) ready for front desk. These cards will be scanned into our system and returned to you while you are completing paperwork. If you wish, some of the paperwork can be printed from our website and completed before your appointment. If not, the front desk person will ask you to complete registration form, safety and medical history questionnaire, consent form and a payment/insurance form. This paperwork usually only takes 5-10 minutes, and the appointment time you were given includes 15 minutes for paperwork and clothing change. After paperwork and payment is complete, you will be taken to our back waiting area where you can lock personal items in the private locker room. The certified MRI technician (tech) will review your paperwork and safety questions with you verbally and she and the radiologist will determine if it is safe for you to enter the magnet room. The tech may ask for written documentation of metal implants, so please bring with you if this applies. If someone has come with you and you wish for this person be in the magnet room with you during your scan, this is perfectly acceptable after this person has been screened for safety, as well.
After the tech makes the determination that it is safe for you to enter the magnet room, they will escort you into the magnet and make you as comfortable as possible during your test. Coils and seat belts may be used during your scan but nothing closes in front of you. In our Upright MRI, the magnetic walls are on either side of you, instead of top to bottom. The tech may also use pillows or foam to position you comfortably. At this time, the MRI procedure will be explained to you as the tech mentions what you will hear during your scan. There is a thumping or tapping sound during your test. This is the machine creating energy to take pictures inside your body. You can ask for earplugs or headphones to help muffle the sound. The tech will also make sure the TV in front of you is on a channel of your choice.
The tech will be visible during your scan through the glass wall in front of you, explaining the process on a microphone. Most of our non-contrasted MRI scans last around 45 minutes.
Upon completion of your MRI, the tech will immediately remove you from the MRI machine and you will be able to return to the locker room to change and gather your things. Depending on the instruction from your referring doctor, you may be asked to wait 5 minutes longer to receive and take a CD of your images with you. After your scan, we will electronically send your images to a trained doctor called a radiologist who will read the results of your MRI and dictate a diagnostic report. This report will be faxed to your referring doctor, typically within 24 hours. Your referring doctor will review and explain the meaning of your test results at your next appointment with them.
Your medical records are kept and can be obtained from our office for 7 years. One set of images printed on a CD is complimentary with your MRI; however, additional copies can be printed at your request for a fee. The radiologist report can be printed free of charge.