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Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

What is MRI?
When is MRI used?
How do I prepare?
What can I expect?
When can I expect results?
How do I schedule a test?

What is MRI?

Magnetic Resonance Imaging or MRI is a highly sophisticated medical imaging technique that uses a magnetic field and radio waves to produce very clear pictures of the inside of the body. These black and white images enable physicians to make the best diagnoses possible, and often eliminating the need for biopsy or surgery. Since no x-rays are used, there is no exposure to radiation with MRI. The MRI is used to diagnose diseases of the:

  • Brain
  • Spine
  • Skeleton
  • Chest
  • Abdomen
  • Pelvis
  • Blood vessels 

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When is MRI used?

MRI is a good way to identify sports injuries and other problems with joints such as the knee and shoulder. It also is used in the diagnosis of cancer and the detection of injuries to the spine and disks. MRI allows for very detailed images of the heart, enabling physicians to examine how well it is pumping and whether there are any clots or blockages in the arteries - to diagnose or determine the extent of cardiac disease or coronary artery disease.

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How do I prepare?

An MRI poses no risk for most people. However, any metallic substance in or on the body may affect the quality of the image and cause discomfort or injury during the procedure, so you must remove all metal on your body, such as jewelry. Before undergoing an MRI exam, be sure to inform your physician or the technician if you are pregnant or if you have:

  • A cardiac pacemaker
  • An artificial heart valve
  • A metal plate, pin or metallic implant
  • An intrauterine device such as copper - 7 IUD
  • Aneurysm clips
  • Previous gunshot wound
  • Ever worked as a metal worker
  • Permanent (tattoo) eyeliner

Bring your physician's referral, insurance card and picture I.D. with you on the day of the exam.

For your convenience, free parking is available across from the main entrance of the hospital. Once inside the hospital, please report to the Admitting Department, located to the right of the main lobby. For privacy and safety reasons, small children are not permitted in the treatment area unless they are being treated.

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What can I expect?

A technician will have you lie down on a cushioned table attached to the MRI. A device called a coil will be placed either above or below the area of the body being examined. This device helps produce a clearer image of the area. The MRI is a spacious chamber, with well-lit openings at both ends. Once you are comfortable, the table will begin to move slowly into one of the openings and through the magnet. A technician will stay in contact with you throughout the procedure, both visually and via intercom. During the exam, you will hear muffled thumping sounds for several minutes at a time. A number of images will be made, each taking about 10 to 15 minutes to complete. It is important to try to relax and remain as still as possible, as any movement during the exam will blur the image and produce less accurate results. The exam usually lasts 30 to 45 minutes.

When can I expect results?

A radiologist will review and interpret the images taken during your MRI. A report will then be sent to your referring physician within 3-5 working days. Please contact your physician for results.

How do I schedule an MRI?

To schedule an MRI, call 773.967.1000.

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