Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a test that creates detailed pictures of the inside of your body. MRI combines the use of strong magnets and radio waves to form an MRI image.

It is often necessary to use a special dye (contrast) to make a part of your body show up more clearly on the scan. If you need the dye, you may get it as something to drink or through an IV (intravenous line).

Example of MRI

Preparing for an MRI

Each type of MRI exam is different. You may need to stop eating or drinking before the test, or you may need to stop taking your medications. Ask your healthcare provider how you need to prepare for your scan. 

You will be asked to change into a gown for safety. All jewelry and other metallic objects must be removed prior to the exam.

Tell your doctor if you have:

  • Intracranial aneurysm clips
  • Ocular metallic foreign bodies
  • A cardiac pacemaker
  • Any electrically active implant
  • Cochlear implants
  • Any known ferromagnetic metallic materials within your body
  • Pregnancy
  • Coils, stents and filters

Arriving for Your Appointment

You will need to arrive at least 30 minutes before your appointment time to check in and complete paperwork.

What Will Happen During the MRI Exam?

You will be asked to wear a hospital gown, and you will be given earplugs or headphones to wear during the scan. You will lie down on a platform that slides into the magnet. You may have a device placed over the area of interest.

The scan can take 30-60 minutes (for each body area scanned). You should plan for your visit to be at least 2 hours. In some cases, it may take longer.

What Happens After the Procedure?

You can usually go back to your normal activities and diet. If you were given the contrast dye, you should drink more water than usual for 24 hours after the exam.