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What is MRI?

Magnetic resonance imaging or MRI is a type of imaging system that utilizes radio waves and a strong magnetic field to generate images of the body. A powerful computer is used to create these images by controlling the interaction of radio waves within the magnetic field and displaying these interactions as a series of pictures or images.

There are no x-rays involved so there is no cumulative risk of radiation. Magnetic resonance images can be acquired for any part of the body, but the common areas include brain, spine, neck, breast, abdomen, muscles, soft tissues and joints. We utilize a short bore magnet system by Siemens Medical that is more comfortable than the traditional long bore magnets, but still affords superb image quality.


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  • There is no specific preparation that is necessary.
  • Avoid eating or drinking caffeine prior to your exam.
  • Cardiac pacemaker
  • Certain cerebral aneurysm clips
  • Infusion pumps such as for insulin or pain control
  • Cochlear implants (inner ear)
  • Metallic fragments that may be in sensitive areas, such as near the eyes
  • Pregnancy in the first trimester
  • Neurostimulators

You should wear clothing without metal parts, such as zippers or buttons; otherwise, you will be asked to change into the provided hospital attire. The technologist will escort you into the MR suite and will position you on a comfortable, cushioned table. A special coil is placed around the region to be examined and you will be positioned inside of the magnet. We have earphones for listening to the music of your choice if desired.

The technologist controls the machine and you will hear a loud knocking sound while the exam is in progress. There may be brief periods of quiet while the technologist changes your imaging sequences. Some patients will receive an injection of contrast material for additional information. All contrast materials used are FDA approved and considered safe from millions of doses administered.

There is direct voice communication for you to contact the technologist at all times. The technologist will be able to see you at all times during the exam.

Unlike x-ray imaging, there is no ionizing radiation, and there is no known adverse effect of magnetic and radio waves at the strengths used in imaging. Some people experience a relaxed sensation afterwards.

Some examinations require the use of a contrast material intravenous injection.
This involves a small needle access to a vein in your arm or hand that is smaller than that used to draw blood.

There is an occasional reaction to the contrast material if utilized, but these are uncommon and are generally minor. It is considered extremely rare to have a serious reaction to this type of contrast material, but our staff is trained to respond to any circumstance.

Via Radiology will supply you with MRI-safe scrubs to wear for your procedure.


The examination may take 25 to 60 minutes and rarely longer if multiple studies are to be done. If you have difficulty holding still, then repeat sequences may need to be performed which would add time to the examination. The average exam time is about 30 minutes.


There are no physical changes to be noted following the examination. Your examination will be transferred to films, similar in appearance to an x-ray film, for your referring physician if requested. The study will be reviewed and interpreted by a Via Radiology radiologist using a computer console designed for image viewing. Our radiologists are board certified and specialize in MR interpretation. If necessary, there is ample opportunity to have consultation between radiologists, which improves your final report.


A Via Radiology radiologist will study the images and provide a written report which includes a description of the findings, any diagnosis that can be made from the exam, as well as a recommendation for further studies if needed. Our reports are usually available within 24 hours of completion of the examination, and are generally received by your physician within two working days. A report may be delayed if we are awaiting studies from an outside facility for comparison purposes. If the results are urgent or if you are seeing your doctor on the same day as your exam, your doctor may request that a preliminary report be phoned or faxed.


If you have experienced anxiety with a prior MRI study or feel uneasy in narrow spaces, you should contact your physician to discuss obtaining a prescription for a medicine to relieve anxiety. This will require that you have a driver accompany you. Under special circumstances, we provide intravenous or general anesthesia upon prior arrangements with your physician.

Your comfort, safety and successful completion of the examination is our goal.


For more information please visit www.RadiologyInfo.org


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