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MRI, which stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging, is a noninvasive medial test which helps our physicians diagnose and treat medical conditions.

MR Imaging uses a magnetic field, radio frequency pulses and a computer to produce detailed pictures of organs, soft tissues, bone and virtually all other internal body structures.

The images can then be examined on a computer monitor and duplicated to CD format.

Detailed MR images allow physicians to better evaluate various parts of the body and certain diseases that may not be assessed adequatley with other imaging methods, such as x-ray, ultrasound or CT.



Help Center

Why would I need an MRI?
What should I expect during my MRI Exam?
How should I prepare?
What will I experience during and after my procedure?
When will I know the resulsts of my test?
Are there any health risks associated with MRI?


Why would I need an MRI?

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MRI is used for many reasons, including but not limited to:
  • MR Angiography - is used to examine blood vessels in key areas of the body, including the brain, kidneys, pelvis, legs, lungs, heart, neck and abdomen.
  • MRI of the breast - offers valuable information about many breast conditions that cannot be obtained by other imaging modalities, such as mammography or ultrasound.
  • Cardiac MRI - is used to evaluate the structures and function of the heart, valves, major vessels and surrounding structures (such as the pericardium). It is also used to diagnose and manage a variety of cardiovascular problems and detect and evaluate the effects of coronary artery disease.
  • MRI of the Chest - gives detailed pictures of structures within the chest cavity, including the heart and vessels, from almost any angle. MRI also provides movie-like sequential imaging of the cardiovascular system that is important to assess the health and function of these structures (heart, valves, great vessels, etc)
  • MRI of the Head - is the most sensitive imaging test of the head (particularly in the brain) in routine clinical practice. It is performed to help diagnose brain tumors, developmental brain anomalies, vascular anomalies of the head (aneurysm for example), disorders of the eyes and inner ear, stroke, head trauma, pituitary gland disease, chronic disorders of the nervous system and causes of headache.
  • Musculoskeletal MRI - is usually the best choice for examining the body's major joints, spine for disk disease and soft tissue of the extremities (muscles and bones).
  • MRI of the Prostate - the primary indication for MRI of the prostate is the evaluation of prostate cancer. The test is commonly used after a prostate biopsy has confirmed cancer in order to determine if the cancer is confined to the prostate, or if it has spread outside the walls of the prostate gland.
  • MRI of the Spine - shows the anatomy of the vertebrae that make up the spine, as well as the disks, spinal cord and the spaces between the vertebrae through which nerves pass.
  • Magnetic Resonance Cholangiopancreatography (MRCP) - is used to examine diseases of the liver, gallbladder, bile ducts, pancreas and pancreatic duct. It's also used to evaluate patients with pancreatitis to detect the underlying cause and to help diagnose unexplained abdominal pain. MRCP is less invasive alternative to endoscopic retrograde colangiopancreatography (ECRP).
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What should I expect during the exam?

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You will be positioned on a moveable examination table as part of your MRI exam. Straps and bolsters may be used to help you stay still and maintain the correct position during imaging. We try our best to make these comfortable for our patients.

Small devices that contain coils capable of sending and receiving radio waves will be placed around or adjacent to the area of the body being studied. If a contrast material is used for the MRI exam, a nurse or Technologist will insert an intravenous (IV) line into a vein in your hand or arm. A saline solution may be used. This solution will drip through the IV to prevent blockage of the IV line until the contrast material is injected.

You will be moved into the magnet of the MRI unit and the technologist will leave the room while the MRI exam is performed.

If a contrast material is used during the examination, it will be injected into the intravenous line after an initial series of scans. Additional series of images will be taken during or following the injection.

When the exam is completed you may be asked to wait until the Technologist or Radiologist checks the images in case additional images are needed.

Your intravenous line is then removed (if used).

MRI exams generally include multiple runs (sequences), some of which may last several minutes.

Depending on the type of exam, the entire exam is usually completed in 15-45 minutes.

MR spectroscopy, which provides additional information on the chemicals present in the body's cells, may also be performed during your MRI exam and may add approximately 60 minutes to the exam time.

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How should I prepare for my MRI?

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You will be asked to change into a gown before your examination and remove jewelry, eyeglasses and any metal objects during the exam.

If you are scheduled for a magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography study (MRCP), you will need to fast for 4 hours prior to your exam.

Take all of your normal daily medications. If you are a diabetic or have low blood sugar then juice and crackers are available.

You may receive an injection of contrast into the bloodstream. One of our technologist may ask if you have allergies of any kind, such as an allergy to iodine or x-ray contrast material, drugs, food, the environment or have asthma. The contrast material used for an MRI exam, called gadolinium, does not contain iodine and is less likely to cause side effects or an allergic reaction. You should also inform the technologist if you have any serious health problems or if you have recently had surgery. Some conditions, such as severe kidney disease may prevent you from being given contrast material for an MRI.

Women should always inform their physician or technologist if there is any possibility that they are pregnant. MRI has been used for scanning patients since the 1980's with no reports of any ill effects on pregnant women or their babies. However, because the baby will be in a strong magnetic field, pregnant women should not have this exam unless the potential benefit from the MRI is assumed to outweigh the potential risks.

Peninsula Imaging employes a 1.5-T MRI machine and a 3-T. Our 3-T carries a large bore (opening) and easily accommodates patients up to 500 lbs. If you have claustrophobia (fear of enclosed spaces) or anxiety, your physician may provide you with a prescription for a mild sedative. The 1.5 T is a large, short bore which enables your head to be out of the scanner.

Patients who are apprehensive about being alone in the exam room may allow one friend or family member to accompany them in the exam room, once they have been screened for safety in the magnetic environment. They will be asked to wear protective ear plugs during their time in the exam room. This is a requirement.

Jewelry and other accessories should be left at home if possible or will need to be removed prior to the MRI scan. Because they can interfere with the MRI magnetic field and/or become non-functional, metal and electronic objects are not allowed in the exam room at any time. These items include jewelry, watches, credit cards and hearing aids, all of which can be damaged. Pins, hairpins, metal zippers and similar metallic items will need to be removed as they may distort MRI images. You will also need to remove any removable dental work, pens, pocketknives, eyeglasses and any body piercings.

Cell phones are prohibited in the examination room and during your examination.

In most cases, an MRI exam is safe for patients with metal implants, except for a few types. Patients with the following implants cannot be scanned and should not enter the MRI scanning area unless explicitly instructed to do so by a Radiologist or Technologist who is completely aware of the presence of any of the following:

  • Internal (implanted) defibrillator or pacemaker
  • Cochlear (ear) implant
  • Some types of clips used on brain aneurysms

You should tell our Technologist if you have medical or electronic devices in your body as they may interfere with the exam or potentially pose a risk, depending on their nature and the strength of the MRI magnet. Examples include but are not limited to:

  • Artificial heart valves
  • Implanted drug infusion ports
  • Implanted electronic device, including a cardiac pacemaker
  • Artificial limbs or metallic joint prostheses
  • Implanted nerve stimulators
  • Metal pins, screws, plates, stents or surgical staples
  • Intrauterine device (IUD)

Generally, metal objects used in orthopedic surgery pose no risk during MRI; however, a recently placed artificial joint may require the use of another imaging procedure. If there is any question of their presence, an x-ray may be taken to detect the presence of and identify any metal objects. Please ask your doctor if you have any questions.

If you have metal object(s) in a certain part of your body, you may also require an x-ray prior to an MRI. Dyes used in tattoos and permanent make-up may contain iron and could heat up during MRI, but this is rarely a problem. Tooth fillings and braces usually are not affected by the magnetic field but they may distort images of the facial area or brain, so the Radiologist should be aware of them.

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What will I experience during and after the procedure?

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Most MRI exams are painless; however, some patients find it uncomfortable to remain still during MR imaging.

It is normal for the area of your body being imaged to feel slightly warm due to radiofrequency absorption. This side effect is very minimal and regulated strictly by your imaging Technologist and monitored by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). Please feel free to discuss any questions or concerns you may have with your imaging Technologists at any time during your visit.

It is important that you remain perfectly still while the images are being recorded, which is typically only a few seconds to a few minutes at a time. For some types of exams you may be asked to hold your breath. You will know when the images are being recorded because you will hear loud tapping or thumping sounds when the coils that generate the radiofrequency pulses are activated. With MR imaging, the loud noise cannot be avoided. Patients always receive hearing protection. Our exam rooms are also equipped with headphones so you can listen to music during your exam. You may even bring your favorite CD with you or ask your Technologist if we have a selected music artists that you enjoy. We carry a music collection.

You will usually be alone in the exam room during the MRI procedure; however, the Technologist will be able to see, hear and speak with you at all times using a two-way intercom.

If your exam uses contrast along with scanning, it is normal to feel coolness and a flushing sensation for just a minute or two. The intravenous needle may cause some discomfort when it is inserted and once it is removed, you may experience some bruising. This is normal. There is also a very small chance of irritation of your skin at the site of the IV tube insertion.

If you have not been sedated, no recovery period is necessary. You may resume your usual activities and normal diet immediately after the exam. That's great news! A few patients experience side effects from contrast material, including nausea and local pain. Very rarely, patients are allergic to the contrast material and may experience hives, itchy eyes or other reactions.If you experience allergic symptoms, our Technologist or Radiologist will be available for immediate assistance.

Breast-feeding mothers should consult with the Technologist or their physician regarding breast feeding after receiving intravenous gadolinium contrast.

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When will I know the results of my test?

Our on-site Radiologist will analyze the images and send a report to your referring physician, who will share the results with you.

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Are there any health risks associated with MRI?

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MRI is a noninvasive imaging technique that does not involve exposure to ionizing radiation. The magnetic field itself is not harmful; however, implanted medical devices that contain metal may malfunction or cause problems during an MRI exam. There is a very slight risk of an allergic reaction if contrast material is injected. Such reactions are usually mild and easily controlled by medication.

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