How to Prepare for an MRI

An MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging, plays an essential role in diagnosing and determining injuries with joints, ligaments, spine, brain, and more. The MRI machine uses radio waves and strong magnetic fields to generate detailed images of the patient’s body. Something that is critical to know is that MRI procedures are non-invasive, painless, extremely safe and require very little preparation.

(This is a picture of a nuc med camera, not an MRI)

You should first let your doctor know if you are pregnant or if you have any other health concerns such as kidney or liver issues. Any conditions should be communicated to ensure that you can take the MRI exam or if your MRI would need any modifications. In some cases, the contrast dye, which allows doctors to see enhanced images, might not be utilized. Important conditions to talk to your doctor about include:

  • Claustrophobia
  • Cochlear Implants
  • Metallic implants (such as a heart stent, artificial heart, knee or hip)
  • A pacemaker
  • Allergy to iodine

What to Expect Prior to Your MRI Procedure:

  • You will be able to take your daily medications and eat normally unless your doctor has instructed otherwise.
  • We recommend that you arrive at least 15-30 minutes prior to your exam to complete any required forms and check-in with our staff.
  • You will need to remove any metal on your body, such as jewelry, body piercings, keys, and coins.
  • You may be asked to change into a hospital gown and will be provided with a storage area or locker for your belongings (leave valuable belongings at home).
  • If you need MRI contrast, an IV catheter will be inserted in your arm. The contrast dye injection is used to enhance and highlight the details of the images. Depending on the scan, this could also be an oral contrast that is consumed like a drink.
  • Earplugs or headphones may be given to you to block the loud clicking and thumping noise the machine will make.

What to Expect During Your MRI Procedure:

  • Once all metal is removed from the body and you have changed into your gown, you will enter a room with the MRI machine, which will look like a large tube with a table.
  • You will be asked to lie down on the flat table, which slides into the MRI machine.
  • You will be asked to lie still during the scanning and may be instructed to hold your breath for a small duration as the images are being taken.
  • Loud banging noises during the procedure are normal. However, if you experience any discomfort, there is an alarm button inside the machine that will let our technologist know if something is wrong.
  • You will also have constant communication with the technician in the control room.
  • The exam will usually vary from 15-45 minutes, depending on the type of scan being performed. Some examinations may also take up to 90 minutes.

What to Expect After Your MRI Procedure:

  • If contrast is used, a nurse or technician will remove the IV from your arm.
  • Once the procedure is finished, you will be able to get dressed and leave the facility.
  • You will hear back from your doctor as soon as the report is available. This timeline is typically 1 to 2 business days. It is important to communicate and stay up to date with your doctor and discuss any concerns or questions you may have following your MRI.

If you have any additional questions or would like more information on how to prepare for an MRI, contact Alliance MRI today! Our dedicated staff will be more than happy to assist you.