Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

Magnetic Resonance Imaging is a relatively new medical technology that uses a strong magnetic field and radio waves to allow physicians to visualize certain anatomical structures more clearly. The produced images may help your physician detect, and define, the differences between healthy and diseased tissue. Conditions that might only have been detectable from physical signs and symptoms, may now be seen clearly, giving physicians more time and better information to determine the most appropriate treatment. Learn more about breast MRIs.

How Does it Work?
To receive and MRI, you must first be referred by a physician. On the day of your MRI exam, you may eat normally and take any prescribed medication. Plan to arrive at the center 15-20 minutes before your appointment. To provide you with the best possible care, you will be asked if you suffer from claustrophobia and whether you are pregnant. (MRI scans are generally not recommended for pregnant women.)

Metal devices cause interference with the MRI machine, and their presence during the MRI procedure may cause injury to you. It is important for you to inform the MRI staff if you have any medical devices (i.e. Copper-7 (IUD), cardiac pacemaker, cerebral aneurysm clip, metal implants or other surgical clips, neurostimulators, or hearing aids) and whether you have any metal shrapnel in your body or metal fragments in your eyes. Before the scan, you will be asked to remove any metallic objects, such as jewelry, hairpins, eye glasses, wig (if it has metal clips), nonpermanent dentures, and makeup. The MRI center will provide you with a safe place for your belongings. You may also be asked to change into a patient gown before being escorted into the exam room.

The MRI Examination
The MRI machine may look intimidating because of its size, but there is no need to be frightened. You will be positioned comfortably onto the examination table with your arms at your sides. The table will then slide into the magnet. While the machine is in operation, you will hear intermittent humming and thumping sounds. Do not be alarmed, for­ these sounds are normal.

The exam takes around 45 minutes or less, depending on the part of the body being scanned. If you need assistance throughout the exam, all you have to do is ask.

In some cases, the physician may decide to order an image enhancement agent. This agent is a liquid that is injected into a vein in your arm or leg, which helps make the MRI details more clear. If an enhancement agent is needed during your MRI exam, it does not mean that your condition is more serious or that anything is wrong with you. It simply means that your physician would like a clearer picture.

When Can You Expect Results?
You can expect results relatively quickly at Albemarle Hospital. A radiologist will review your MRI scan then report the results to your physician, who will discuss the findings with you.

If You Have Questions
Please feel free to speak with your physician or the staff in diagnostic imaging service if you have additional questions. They are happy to help you, or your family, better understand the MRI exam.