Magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, uses a strong magnet and radio waves to provide detailed diagnostic images of internal body organs and tissues. MRI offers superior sensitivity and specificity for the detection and characterization of body structures and tissue changes that may not be visible with other diagnostic imaging methods. MRI is a valuable tool for the noninvasive diagnosis of a broad range of conditions, including, but not limited to:

•Neurological and vascular disease

•Spine, joint and musculoskeletal disorders

•Liver, pancreas, kidney, and breast disease

What are some common uses of MRI?

•Imaging of the Musculoskeletal System: MRI is often used to study the foot, ankle, knee, hip, shoulder, elbow, hand, and wrist. MRI is also a highly accurate method for evaluation of soft tissue structures such as tendons and ligaments, which are seen in great detail. Even subtle injuries of cartilage, ligaments, and bone can be detected.


•Imaging of the brain and spine: MRI is the most sensitive technique for the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, cerebral infarction and stroke. Obstructed blood vessels, vascular malformations, and aneurysms are readily detected with MRI. Tumors of the brain and spine are accurately diagnosed with this technology. MRI is commonly used for the noninvasive diagnosis of spinal problems including disc herniation and spinal stenosis.


•Imaging of the chest, abdomen and pelvis: The liver, spleen, pancreas, and kidneys can be examined in great detail with MRI. MRI is particularly useful for the detection and characterization of focal hepatic lesions (cysts, hemangioma, fat, FNH, adenoma, cancer) and diffuse liver disease (fatty infiltration, hemosiderosis, cirrhosis). Vascular patency (portal vein, Budd Chiari, renal artery), pancreatic tumors and bile duct anomalies are clearly visualized with MRI. In the early diagnosis of breast cancer, MRI is frequently a superior alternative to traditional x-ray mammography. Furthermore, because no radiation exposure is involved, MRI is often used for examination of the male and female reproductive systems.

How should I prepare for an MRI?

•Bring a copy of the order for the procedure from your referring physician, a photo ID card, and your insurance card.
•No special preparation is needed for most MRI examinations.

•Before studies of the brain, spine, and joints you can eat a regular diet. For studies of the abdomen or pelvis you should refrain from eating or drinking for 4 hours.

•Take your usual medications.

•Wear comfortable, loose clothing. You may be asked to change into a gown.

• Before entering the MRI room you must remove ALL metallic objects including guns, hearing aids, dentures, partial plates, keys, beeper, cell phone, eyeglasses, hair pins, barrettes, jewelry, body piercing jewelry, watch, safety pins, paperclips, money clip, credit cards, bank cards, magnetic strip cards, coins, pens, pocket knife, nail clippers, tools, clothing with metal fasteners, and clothing with metallic threads. Notify the technologist if you have any implanted electronic pacemaker, pump, stimulator or other device. The MRI system has a very strong magnetic field that is always on. Improper entry to the MRI scanning room may result in serious injury or death. Do not enter the MRI scanning room without the permission of the MRI technologist or Radiologist. Do not enter the MRI room if you have any question or concern regarding the safety of an implant or device.

What should I expect during this exam?

•Depending on how many images are needed, the exam generally takes 20 – 45 minutes. However, very detailed studies may take longer.

•MRI is painless. However, some claustrophobic patients may experience a “closed in” feeling when placed in the magnet. If this is a concern, a sedative can be administered. Please notify us ahead of time if you will require a sedative.

•Even though the technologist must leave the room, you will be able to communicate with them at any time using an intercom.

•You will be asked to remain still during the actual imaging process. Movement will blur and degrade the images.

•You will hear loud tapping or thumping during the exam. Earplugs will be provided to you by the MRI center.

•Depending on the part of the body being examined, a contrast material may be injected to enhance the visibility of certain tissues or blood vessels.

What should I do after the examination?

•When your examination is over, you may resume your normal daily activities unless otherwise instructed by your doctor. One of our board-certified radiologists will review the images and send a report to your physician. You can discuss the results of your examination with your physician.