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Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

Man lying on back on MRI table. Table is ready to go into MRI tube. Healthcare provider is standing beside man.
You will be asked to hold very still during the scan.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a test that lets your doctor see detailed pictures of the inside of your body. MRI combines the use of strong magnets and radio waves to form an MRI image.

Before Your Test

  • MRI uses strong magnets, so you’ll be asked to remove your watch, jewelry, and other metal objects.

  • You may be asked to remove your makeup, which may contain some metal.

  • Most MRI tests take 30 to 60 minutes. Allow yourself extra time to check in.

The magnet used in MRI can cause metal objects in your body to move. You may be asked if you:

  • Have had any previous surgeries.

  • Have a pacemaker or other implants.

  • Wear a medicated adhesive patch.

  • Have metal splinters in your body.

  • Have tattoos.

Your technologist will also ask you whether:

  • You’re pregnant or think you may be.

  • You’re claustrophobic (afraid of confined spaces).

During Your Test

  • You may be asked to wear a hospital gown.

  • You may be injected with contrast (a special “dye” that improves the MRI image). You should tell the technologist or radiologist if you have any allergies and if you have any serious health problems or have had surgery. Serious kidney disease may prevent you from getting contrast material for your MRI. You should also tell the technologist if you are breastfeeding. 

  • You’ll lie down on a platform that slides into the magnet.

After Your Test

  • You can get back to normal activities right away. If you were given contrast, it will pass naturally through your body within a day.

  • Your doctor will discuss the test results with you during a follow-up appointment or over the phone.

  • Your next appointment is: __________________

Online Medical Reviewer: Dozier, Tennille, RN, BSN, RDMS
Online Medical Reviewer: MMI board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Date Last Reviewed: 12/29/2013
© 2000-2014 Krames StayWell, 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.