What to expect
What are MRIs Used For?
Doctors use MRIs to gather essential information about your body’s internal organs and skeletal system, including your joints, spine, and brain. Then, they use the images to see if injuries or abnormalities are associated with your ligaments, nerves, bones, muscles, and other tissues.
Typical Duration of an MRI
Scans take anywhere from 15 minutes to 30min, depending on the complexity of the exam.
How to Prepare for Your MRI
There isn’t much preparation required for an MRI scan. Unless instructed otherwise, you take your daily medicines as you usually would. There could be some dietary restrictions for an MRI, but your healthcare provider will notify you of these requirements before your exam. Guidelines about drinking and eating before the MRI exam vary based on the exam itself.
Most MRI scan preparation suggestions will include:
Getting to your appointment at least 30 minutes before your exam to check-in and fill out the MRI screening form
Putting on medical scrubs or a hospital gown
Getting an IV line placed, if the exam requires MRI contrast, the nurse will insert an IV catheter
Leave jewelry and accessories home if possible, or remove them before your MRI scan.
Let the Technologist Know of Medical Conditions
When you schedule your appointment, let the technologist and staff know if you have any metallic implants within your body. You may also require special preparations for certain conditions, such as preparation for MRI of the Abdomen & Prostate.
What Happens During An MRI?
1. Sounds: You’ll hear loud thumping, knocking, and tapping sounds from the machine. These noises are completely normal. You will be provided with headphones that play music during your scan.
2. Remaining still and holding your breath: When you go in for your MRI scan, you’ll lie down on the table and need to stay still. The machine moves as you’re positioned to obtain the clearest images. The technologist may instruct you to hold your breath at specified intervals for a few seconds, depending on what area of the body they’re scanning.
3. Contrast dye: If the doctor wants to perform a contrast enhanced MRI, they’ll inject you with a material, called gadolinium, during your MRI through an IV in your arm. During the scan, this material lights up, helping doctors better look at your heart, brain, and blood vessels.
If your procedure requires contrast dye, you might feel some effects when they inject the dye into your IV line, such as:
A feeling of coldness or flushing sensation
A metallic or salty taste in your mouth
A brief headache
Nausea and vomiting
Typically, these effects last for only a few moments.
Recovery From an MRI
Once your scan is complete, the table you’re lying on will slide out of the MRI scanner, and the technologist will assist you off the table. When getting up from the table, be sure you move slowly to avoid any lightheadedness or dizziness from lying flat during the exam. The technologist will remove the IV line they inserted for any contrast administration. Otherwise, no special recovery care is required after an MRI scan.