What to expect when you have an MRI test

by admin November 9, 2010

Celebrating National Radiologic Technology Week: November 7 – 13, 2010 

MRINational Radiologic Technology Week is celebrated each year during November to commemorate the anniversary of the X-ray’s discovery by Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen on November 8, 1895.


The Orthopaedic Institute (TOI) uses image testing for many of its patients. When the X-ray was created, it was the first time physicians could see beyond the skin without performing surgery, and it is still the most common. Many times, even if a more sophisticated test is needed, an X-ray is still initially taken. When an X-ray cannot suffice, it is necessary to utilize the MRI test to obtain an accurate diagnosis.


For some, getting an MRI can be the cause of a lot of anxiety. To celebrate National Radiologic Technology Week, TOI would like to provide some general information about MRI testing: what to expect, safety, precautions, preparations and much more.


What is MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)?


MRI enables your physician to view the body and obtain precise diagnostic information without the use of radiation. MRI utilizes a strong magnetic field and radio frequency waves to construct a computer image. Some MRI procedures require contrast media, which is given intravenously. This contrast can improve the visibility of internal body structures and provide the physician with additional information. MRI is more advanced than the X-ray and is able to take high-resolution pictures of your bones and soft tissues.


What to expect when you have your MRI test:


The MRI machine makes a variety of loud noises; you will be given ear protection to wear during your exam. A sound system with headphones is available for most procedures. If you have a favorite CD you would like to listen to during your MRI, please bring the CD with you the day of your MRI test.


The MRI procedure does not hurt; some patients may feel a warm sensation over the area being scanned. This is normal, but you should still tell the technologist. You have to remain very still during your MRI to obtain clear and accurate pictures. The slightest movement may blur the images.


During your MRI, an intercom allows you to communicate with the technologist.


How long is the MRI test?


30-45 minutes, depending on the type of exam ordered.


MRI safety:


  • Every patient must be prescreened before entering the MRI room. 
  • All metal must be removed before entering the MRI room:
  • Belts, jewelry, watches, metal zippers, credit cards, hearing aides, eye glasses, skin patches, keys, hair pins, dentures and cell phones.

Body Implants, and Tattoos?


Please tell the technologist prior to your MRI.


Do you have a pacemaker, Implantable cardioverter defibrillator or Cochlear Ear Implant?


If so, you cannot have an MRI test!


Are you claustrophobic, in extreme pain or suffering from anxiety?


Talk to your physician about being pre-medicated for your MRI. If you need to be pre-medicated, you will need a driver to take you home.




Tell your physician and notify the technologist prior to your MRI test. There are other imaging methods that can be used if you are pregnant.


Other Medical Conditions may prevent you from having an MRI:


  • Metal fragments in one or both eyes (may require a CT scan before scheduling your MRI).
  • Metal fragments or prosthesis within the body
  • Pregnancy
  • Certain types of aneurysm clips and stents
  • Other types of metal or magnetic activated implants


MRI test with contrast media:


The contrast is given intravenously and sometimes requires a lab test (creatinine) prior to the contrast being given. Some patients, including all diabetics, require this lab test prior to an MRI with contrast.




MRI tests are covered under many insurances policies. We do not have information on whether your specific insurance policy covers your MRI test. We suggest you check with your insurance company before scheduling the appointment. Some insurance companies require pre-authorization for your MRI test.


How do I get my MRI results?


A follow-up appointment with your physician will be scheduled.


Preparing for your MRI:


  • You can eat and drink prior to your MRI.
  • Arrive 10-15 minutes prior to your scheduled test to complete any paperwork and change your clothing, if necessary.
  • Wear loose fitting clothes, without zippers, snaps or other metal objects.
  • Complete the prescreening questionnaires and answer all the safety questions.
  • Remove all metal
  • Remove any hair pins
  • Remove any hearing Aides
  • Remove Dentures
  • A locker will be provided for your belongings.
  • Take your medication if you need to be pre-medicated and bring your driver.

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