What to expect during an MRI exam.
During the actual procedure in most cases, the specialist will ask you to lie on your back on a table that is part of the MRI scanner. Your head, chest, and arms may be held with straps to help you remain still. The table will slide into the space that contains the magnet.
A device called a coil may be placed over or wrapped around the area to be scanned. A special belt strap may be used to sense your breathing or heartbeat. This triggers the machine to take the scan at the right time. If an IV will be needed for the test, this will have been inserted into your body by now as well.
It is customary that the MRI staff will be nearby during MRI scan. There are a number of ways to communicate with the staff during the test. Sometimes you can hold a buzzer to contact the staff so you don’t have to talk or move your head. In most cases the specialist will be able to talk to you via an intercom and in some cases you will be able to talk back without affecting the scan.
Your table will then be slid into the large round tube that contains the magnet. When you are positioned inside the scanner you will hear a fan and feel air moving. You may also hear tapping or snapping noises as the MRI scans are taken. Earplugs or headphones with music are often given to reduce the noise. It is very important to hold completely still while the scan is being done. You will not have pain from the magnetic field or radio waves used for the MRI test.
During the test you may be asked to hold your breath for short periods of time. You will most likely be alone in the scanner room, but the technologist will watch and monitor you through a window. You will be able to talk with them through a two-way intercom if needed.
If contrast material is needed for your test, the technologist will send it through the intravenous (IV) line in your arm. You may feel some coolness and flushing as it is put into your IV. In rare cases, you may feel a tingling feeling in the mouth if you have metal dental fillings or warmth in the area being examined. These are both normal. Tell the technologist if you have nausea, vomiting, headache, dizziness, pain, burning, or breathing problems. The material may be given over 1 to 2 minutes.
An MRI test usually takes 30 to 60 minutes but can take as long as 2 hours and are usually done as an outpatient procedure, which means you can go home right after the test is completed. However, if you are given any medicine to help you relax, you need to arrange for someone to drive you home after the test.
To find out more about the actual experience throughout the exam in more detail, click the links below:
Contact a quality MRI facility directly and ask them any specific questions or concerns you might have before getting any exam.
OTHER FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
- What are MRI scans?
- Why would someone need or get a MRI scan?
- What are the different types of MRI scans?
- What is an MRI experience like?
- What are the costs of a MRI scan?
- What are the risks of a MRI scan?
- How are MRIs different than MRA scans?
- How are MRIs different than x-rays or CT scans?