During an MRI

Instructions for Patients During and After an MRI

Patients undergoing magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) should follow these instructions during the exam:

  1. The MRI unit looks like a large metal donut. The center hole is open on both ends. You will lie on a padded table that moves into the tunnel. The scanning is done while you are in the center.
  2. You must lie still. Stay relaxed inside the MRI unit. Movement can distort the image.
  3. The test takes 20 to 90 minutes. You will be made as comfortable as possible.
  4. You will be given a squeeze button to call the technologist if you need anything. The staff will also be able to watch you at all times through a glass window. You will be given earplugs to wear, but you will still be able to hear and talk with MRI staff through a microphone. Please notify the technologist if you have any problems during the MRI.
  5. A coil might be placed around the part of your body being scanned such as your head, knee or abdomen. This coil is really a special radio receiver that improves the picture and is usually contained in hard white plastic. If the coil begins to become uncomfortable during the scan, tell the MRI technologist.
  6. At certain times you will hear thumping noises. These noises are caused by the changing magnetic fields. You will feel air moving as fans move the air within the tunnel.
  7. You may have someone with you in the room if you wish. This may help if you start to feel anxious. You may also listen to music through headphones while in the scanner. If you are very claustrophobic, your doctor may give you a mild sedative, or your MRI may be scheduled with sedation. If so you will need to have someone drive you home after the test.
  8. The test is painless, though if your test requires gadolinium contrast this is applied in a vein through a needle. The test is very safe. If you feel that you are having more pain or symptoms following the MRI, notify the technologist before leaving.

After the MRI

If you feel pain or any unusual symptom following the exam, contact your referring physician. You can be as active as you like after the MRI unless you were given a sedative. Check with your doctor about this.

The pictures taken during the test will be reviewed by a radiologist. Your results will then be given to your doctor, who will discuss them with you.

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