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MRI Exams

Preparing for Your MRI Exam





What should I expect BEFORE my MRI exam?


It is important for you to bring a list of your current medications with you, so we will know what you may have taken prior to your MRI exam.

Food and Drink

For most MRI exams there are no restrictions on what you may eat or drink. For the exceptions, instructions may be given at the time your appointment is scheduled and/or you may receive written instructions on a printed itinerary that will be mailed to you after your appointment is scheduled.

When to Arrive

For routine imaging and for adults receiving sedation, you will be asked to arrive 30 minutes prior to your scheduled scan time. All pediatric patients scheduled to receive sedation/anesthesia will be asked to arrive one hour prior to your scheduled scan time.  This time is necessary for you to complete our required paperwork, change your clothes and discuss your exam with the technologist and discuss the sedation process with an MRI nurse or anesthesia personnel, as applicable.

What to Wear

For all MRI exams, you will be required to change into a hospital gown. We will provide you with a locker to secure your clothes. We recommend that you leave jewelry and other valuables at home. You will be required to remove hearing aids, eyeglasses and dentures (depending on the type of scan to be performed) prior to your MRI scan.

Intravenous Contrast Material

If your exam was ordered with the use of contrast, a trained technologist or nurse will administer it through an IV in your arm about half way through the exam. MRI contrast is very safe and usually does not cause any allergic reactions.

Recent information from the FDA suggest using caution when administering contrast to any patient that has a history of renal (kidney) problems. We may perform lab work prior to your exam if there is a concern regarding your kidney function.

Based on your lab results and the type of exam ordered, our radiologist will determine whether the contrast can be safely administered to you.

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What will I experience DURING my MRI exam?


After you have removed all metal objects, the technologist will escort you into the scanner room and position you on the scanning table. Your head will be placed in a padded plastic cradle or on a pillow and the table will slide into the scanner.

The part of your body being scanned will be placed in the center of the tunnel. The technologist will leave the room, but they can see you through the observation window and will communicate with you periodically during the scan through an intercom. While the scanner is taking your pictures, you will hear rapidly repeating, loud thumping noises coming from the walls of the scanner, therefore earplugs will be provided.

Any movement, especially of your head or back during this time will seriously blur the pictures. During scanning, you should breathe quietly and normally, but otherwise refrain from any movement, coughing or wiggling. Some exams may require you to hold your breath for a short time and the technologist will give you instructions if this is necessary.

When the thumping noise stops, the pictures will be processing and you may relax for a few seconds, but you must refrain from changing your position or moving. This will usually be repeated several times and the entire exam ordinarily takes between 30 and 60 minutes to complete.

If your exam was ordered with the use of contrast, a trained technologist or nurse will administer it through the IV in your arm about halfway through the exam. MRI contrast is very safe and usually does not cause any allergic reactions.

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What should I expect AFTER my MRI exam?

You will not have any restrictions upon completion of your MRI exam and may resume your normal activities unless you received sedation. If so, you will be given specific instructions before you leave the department.

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MRI Exam Results

All MRI exams are read by the Wake Forest University Health Science Radiologists trained in MR imaging and dedicated to the specific body part scanned. They will read your exam within 24 hours and the results will be sent to the doctor that ordered your exam. Your doctor will then discuss the results with you and what they mean in relation to your health.

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Last Updated: 09-16-2016
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Disclaimer: The information on this website is for general informational purposes only and SHOULD NOT be relied upon as a substitute for sound professional medical advice, evaluation or care from your physician or other qualified health care provider.

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