• MRI Frequently Asked Questions

    How soon will I get the results?

    Your doctor will usually have a report faxed within 24 hours. The official typed report is mailed within 24 to 36 hours.

    What is contrast?

    Some MRI studies require contrast, a fluid injected through a vein that shows up brightly on an MRI image. Contrast helps our radiologists identify and characterize certain diseases. Not all MRI studies require contrast; your doctor and our radiologists make this decision. MRI contrast does not interfere with other medicines. You will be able drive yourself home after receiving contrast. Some studies also require oral contrast.

    What is the difference between MRI and CT?

    MRI uses a powerful magnetic field for imaging; a CT scanner uses X-rays or ionizing radiation. Both are powerful tools for imaging, and each images certain areas of the body better than the other. For example, MRI is better for imaging the knee, whereas CT is better for imaging the lungs. The two are complementary in many parts of the body. For example, it is not unusual for a CT of the liver to show an abnormality and then for an MRI to help further characterize it.

    Why can't they make it quieter? What makes the noise?

    MRI scanners make loud banging noises while acquiring images. These noises are caused by something called gradients within the machine. These gradients are rapidly turned on and off, which causes the noise. Unfortunately the noise cannot be turned down, but we do offer earplugs to our patients to muffle the sound.

    Are my fillings OK during an MRI?

    Dental fillings are safe in the magnet. In certain studies, dental amalgam has been found to cause artifacts that degrade image quality, but this is rarely significant.

    How much radiation am I getting?

    None. There is no ionizing radiation used in an MRI machine.

    How long does an MRI study take?

    Most studies last around 40 minutes. However, some studies can take longer.

    If I have a pacemaker, can I have an MRI?

    No. In general, pacemakers are not safe in the magnet.

    If I have a stent, surgical clips or aneurysm clip, can I have an MRI? 

    Stents and surgical clips are usually safe in the magnet. Aneurysm clips in the head are sometimes safe, but the type of clip needs to be discussed with the doctor or technician first.


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