Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging, is used for cancer diagnosis, staging, and treatment planning.
MRI can distinguish between normal and diseased tissue to locate cancerous cells within the body. It is also useful in revealing metastases. It is especially useful for imaging the brain, spine, muscle, connective tissue, and bones.
What to expect during the exam
Although MRI is an advanced medical technique, the exam is probably one of the easiest and most relaxed you may ever experience.
- The technologist will ask you to lie down on a cushioned table that automatically moves into the center of the magnet after you have been comfortably positioned.
- The technologist will leave the magnet room, but (s)he will be in constant contact throughout the exam. The magnet makes a knocking sound as images are taken, but earplugs and headphones will be provided for your comfort. Since MRI is a non-invasive procedure, it is painless.
- Relax - even take a nap.
- Lie as still as possible. Moving during the procedure may require repeating parts of the exam.
- The doctor may ask for a contrast agent to be administered, so the machine can visualize a certain part of your body. If this is the case, you may have an intravenous (IV) line inserted. The contrast agent should not make you feel different at all. Depending on the area of the body being scanned, the exam will last 30 to 60 minutes.
- Remember, magnets and metal do not mix.
- MRI exams pose no risk to the average patient if safety guidelines are followed.
- Patients with the following items cannot be scanned: pacemakers, cochlear implants, metal filings in the eye and cerebral aneurysm clips. When you arrive in the Radiology department, you will fill out a screening sheet to check for the presence of any of these items.
- The MRI technologist will ask you to remove all materials that might be affected or attracted by the powerful magnet, such as watches, coins, keys, bobby pins, pocket knives and other items.
- Do not bring any unnecessary items to the hospital with you. Lockers will be provided to keep your belongings secure during your exam.