Mercy Regional Health Center
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Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

What is magnetic resonance imaging?
What happens during the scan?
How do I prepare for the scan?
What should I wear?
What are the risks?
Is the magnetic energy safe?
Will I be able to feel the scan?
How long does an MRI scan take?


What is magnetic resonance imaging?
Magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, is a testing procedure that uses magnetic fields to create pictures of your body. It is a painless, non-invasive way to obtain detailed information to help your doctor evaluate your health. MRI does not use any radiation to create images.

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What happens during the scan?
A technologist will escort you into the scanner room. In some cases, an injection of contrast agent may be necessary to help the doctor better view certain body parts. This contrast agent is not an iodine compound.
 
You will be asked to lie down on the MRI scanner bed. The scanner bed is then moved into the MRI machine. MRI machines are designed to be in close proximity to or in contact with the body part being scanned in order to gather accurate data. If this is a concern, please discuss your options with your doctor or the imaging technologist.
 
The MRI scanner contains a very strong magnet. This magnet creates radio waves that pass through your body. The machine measures your body's response to these waves and the computer translates the information into pictures. These pictures can show bones, blood vessels, liquids and different tissue densities.
 
You will be asked to lie very still during the scan and may be asked to hold your breath for short periods, depending on the area being scanned.
 
While the scanner is on, you may hear noises. You can request earplugs if you have sensitive hearing or are having an MRI scan on your head. You will be able to talk to the technologist during the entire time of the scan.

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How do I prepare for the scan?
Please arrive at least 20 minutes before your appointment to be checked in for your exam. Generally, there are no dietary or medication restrictions to be followed before the exam.

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What should I wear?
Most exams do not require you to wear a gown if you wear loose, comfortable clothing that is metal-free.
 
You should not wear jewelry, metal objects, eyeglasses or dental pieces during the exam. Let your doctor know if you have had bullet wounds or exposure to metalwork shavings.

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What are the risks?
There are no known health risks from MRI. If you have certain pacemakers or metal aneurysm clips in the brain, you will not be allowed to have the scan. Those who are pregnant, or have artificial heart valves or other surgical implants need to have their doctors consult us to see if it is safe to have the MRI.

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Is the magnetic energy safe?
Yes, it is. You will be examined to ensure you have no metal in your body that will interfere with the scan.

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Will I be able to feel the scan?
No, you will not feel the magnetic field, but you will hear a knocking noise while pictures are being made.

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How long does an MRI scan take?
It may take 20 to 60 minutes for the exam, depending on what your doctor has ordered.

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