Patient getting ready for MRI scan

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

An MRI scan is used detect and combat an array of illnesses and conditions. We aim to provide you with the most comfortable and calm experience possible while receiving your scan.

MRI is an advanced digital imaging method that produces clear, high-resolution images of tissues and organs in the body. A powerful, yet harmless, magnetic field is combined with radio waves to produce detailed pictures of body structures such as the spine and brain, internal organs and tissues. There is a horizontal tube running through the magnet from front to back (open at both ends). You lie on your back, and slide into the bore on a special table. Whether or not you go in head first or feet first, as well as how far in the magnet you will go, is determined by the type of exam to be performed.

Because an MRI scan is so versatile, the pictures produced can be analyzed by your doctor to detect, diagnose and treat conditions ranging from bone infections, joint damage and multiple sclerosis, to brain injuries, blocked blood vessels and cancer.

MRI scans are often confused for X-rays. MRI scans are safer and provide a wider range of scanning capabilities than X-rays do. An MRI is non-invasive allows your doctor to focus on organs and tissue by using a harmless magnetic field, whereas an X-ray uses radiation to image the bones in your body.

During an MRI scan, you lie on a bed that goes into an MRI machine that encompasses your entire body. The test is painless, however, patients who are claustrophobic may find it somewhat uncomfortable. Many of our locations have open-style MRI machines, making scans more comfortable for claustrophobic patients.

While your body is scanned, it is normal for the machine’s magnet to make loud and repetitive tapping noises. That magnet sends information into a computer controlled by an MRI technician who will be located in a separate room.

The MRI technician monitors you and the MRI machine throughout the entire process and a microphone allows you to speak to your technician at all times. A computer processes the information sent by the magnet and radio waves to produce an image. The scan can take anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour depending on the objective.

We understand that this type of screening can be challenging for children, so with your doctor’s prescription, sedation is available for pediatric patients, which is administered under the supervision of our pediatric intensivist, pediatric anesthesiologist and nurse.

Other possible concerns include any special care needs and claustrophobia. Discussing these with your clinician ahead of time can allow us to accommodate your needs, prescribe anti-anxiety medications, and perform other preemptive measures that should help your examination go smoothly.

Your MRI results

A radiologist will review your MRI images, compare them to previous pertinent films you may have had, and interpret what they see. The radiologist will then dictate a report, which will be transcribed and sent to the clinician who ordered your exam. Please contact your clinician for the results of your MRI test. Some clinicians may want to see a CD of the images as well as the written results, so please let your technologist know before your scan begins.

Most people are great candidates for having an MRI examination. If you have a pacemaker or other electrical device implanted in your body, please notify your clinician who can help determine if an MRI examination is appropriate.

Due to the incredibly strong magnetic field generated by the MRI, if you have metallic fragments or other metallic implants in your body, an MRI scan may not be the best examination for you.

A technician will instruct you to remove jewelry, watches, dentures and any other object that could interfere with the magnet. Be sure to inform your doctor prior to your scan if you have any of the following within your body, as they could pose risks to you or alter the images produced by the scan:

  • Pacemaker
  • Artificial heart valves
  • Implanted nerve stimulators
  • Metal fragments such as shrapnel
  • Pins or screws
  • Metal joints
  • Hearing aids
  • Cochlear implants

Doctors Specializing in Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

At Providence, you'll have access to a vast network of dedicated and compassionate providers who offer personalized care by focusing on treatment, prevention and health education.

See all doctors specializing in Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)