Patient Information - What You Need to Know

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Description of Exam

An MRI scan uses a large magnet, radio waves, and a computer to create a detailed, cross-sectional image of internal organs and structures in your body. The scanner itself typically resembles a large tube with a table in the middle, allowing you to slide in. The area of the body that your physician wants imaged is placed in the center of the magnet. During imaging, the equipment will produce loud clanging noises. This is perfectly normal and should be expected. You will be given hearing protection during the test by the MRI staff.

Preparing For Your Exam

There is very little preparation required, if any, before an MRI scan. As the MRI scanner produces strong magnetic fields, it's important to remove any metal objects from your body.

These include:

  • Watches
  • Jewelry, such as earrings and necklaces
  • Piercings, such as ear, nipple and nose rings
  • Dentures and retainers
  • Hearing aids
  • Wigs (some wigs contain traces of metal)

The MRI staff will attempt to contact you prior to your arrival to review your past surgical history and ensure that there is nothing implanted that may pose a danger to you during your time spent in the scanner. It is important to let staff know of past medical surgeries and if you’ve had any piercing injuries involving metallic objects including bullets or shrapnel.
Individuals who are anxious or nervous about enclosed spaces should tell their doctor. Often they can be given medication prior to the MRI to help make the procedure more comfortable.

Upon arrival we will review the safety questions again and answer any questions that you may have. You will be asked to change into a gown prior to being imaged. You will be able to lock your clothing and personal belongings in a secure, designated locker during your time spent in the department. Everyone entering the scan room will need to change into hospital approved atire.

Please arrive 30 minutes before your scheduled exam time to allow for registration, changing of clothes, and review of safety questions.

During Your Exam

Once in the scanner, the MRI technologist will be able to communicate with the you via an intercom to make sure that you are comfortable. The staff will not start the scan until you are ready. All patients are given an emergency button to squeeze should they want to urgently contact the technologist for any reason.

During the scan, it is important to stay still and not move. Any movement will disrupt the images, much like a camera trying to take a picture of a moving object. Loud clanging noises will come from the scanner. This is perfectly normal. Depending on the images, at times it may be necessary for the person to hold their breath. Earplugs or headphones will be provided to block out the loud noises of the scanner.

Patients will sometimes receive an injection of intravenous (IV) contrast agent to improve the visibility of a particular tissue that is relevant to the scan. Contrast reactions/allergies to the MRI contrast agent are extremely rare, the MRI staff is trained to recognize and treat any potential side effects that may occur.

If the patient feels uncomfortable during the procedure, they can speak to the MRI technologist via the intercom and request that the scan be stopped. All patients are given an emergency button to squeeze should they want to urgently contact the technologist for any reason.

After Your Exam

There are typically no restrictions or limitations following an MRI exam. The staff will advise you if there are any prior to you leaving the department. There are some procedures performed where you will be given specific post-exam instructions.

Your MR images will be evaluated and read by a radiologist (a doctor trained in interpreting scans and X-rays) and possibly discussed with other specialists.

This means it's unlikely you'll get the results of your scan immediately.

The radiologist will send a report to the physician who arranged the scan. Your ordering physician will discuss the results with you.


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    The coronary calcium score screening is a CT scan used to assess your risk of heart disease. In just five minutes, this non-contrast, non-invasive test allows doctors to take pictures of your heart and look for blockages in your arteries that can cause a heart attack.

  • CT Scans

    CT (computed tomography or CT scan) is an imaging technology that uses x-ray beams (radiation) and computers to create detailed, cross-sectional images of an area of the body.

  • CT Virtual Colonoscopy

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  • General Diagnostic Radiology

    General Diagnostic Radiology includes evaluation of the chest, spine, skull, extremities, hips, pelvis and abdomen. General diagnostic radiology is often used to evaluate suspected fracture or other indications of injury or abnormality.

  • Interventional Radiology

    The Department of Interventional Radiology and Neuroimaging’s staff physicians have all received specialized training and are all certified by the American Board of Radiology.

  • Mammography

    A mammogram is used to evaluate an abnormal clinical finding, such as a breast lump, that has been found by a woman or her physician.

  • MRI

    Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology is unrivaled in its ability to produce high resolution images of soft tissue and structural anatomy.

  • Nuclear Medicine

    Nuclear medicine is a safe and painless imaging technology that uses small amounts of specially-formulated radioactive materials (tracers) to help diagnose and treat a variety of diseases.

  • PET Scan

    PET/CT combines the functional information from a positron emission tomography (PET) exam with the anatomical information from a computed tomography (CT) exam into one single exam.

  • Ultrasound

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