Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center
- VICC Home
- Wellness, Support
- Patient Guide
- Cancer Types
- Meet Our
- Clinical Trials
A magnetic resonance imaging test (MRI) is used to diagnose many different conditions, including:
- damage to ligaments,
- tumors and
- spinal cord injuries.
The test uses magnets and radio waves to capture images of the organs and structures inside the body. MRI images are more detailed than x-rays and CT scans. They do not use radiation.
What to Expect
The MRI machine is a large square machine with a hole in its center. It looks like a doughnut. To start the test, you lie still on a table that moves you into the doughnut hole. You will be given ear plugs to block out loud noises that can be heard as the machine snaps pictures.
The test is painless, but it can take an hour or more. Lying still inside the machine can become uncomfortable. For that reason, sedation medication is sometimes given before the test.
Some MRI tests require use of a contrast dye material that highlights specific areas of the body. This dye makes abnormalities easier to see. It may be given in an IV, by mouth, or through a feeding tube. During injection of a contrast dye, you may feel a warm, flushed sensation.
MRI results are interpreted by a radiologist (a doctor trained to read radiographic images or x-rays).