How should I prepare?

You'll meet with your doctor to learn about the test and how to prepare. You will also be given instructions for your specific exam at the time of scheduling/registration.  Here are some general tips: 

  • Eat normally. Take your usual medications unless your doctor gives you other instructions.
  • If possible, bring any pertinent X-rays, CT scans or previous MRI exams.
  • Bring your insurance identification card or any other relevant insurance information. 
  • Bring your order from your physician.

MRI exams are very safe.  There are no known health risks associated with the magnetic field or the radio waves used by the machine.  However, some special circumstances limit the use of a magnetic field, so it is important for you to tell us if any of the following apply to you or someone accompanying you into the exam room: 

  • Are allergic to any medicines.  Contrast material used for MRI does not contain iodine, however, if you know that you are allergic to the contrast material used for the MRI, tell your doctor before having another test.
  • Are or might be pregnant.
  • Have any metal implanted in your body.  This helps your doctor know if the test is safe for you.  Tell your doctor if you have:
    • Heart and blood vessel devices such as a coronary artery stent, a pacemaker, an ICD (implantable cardioverter-defibrillator), or a metal heart valve.
    • Metal pins, clips, or metal parts in your body, including artificial limbs and dental work or braces.
    • Any other implanted medical device, such as a medicine infusion pump or a cochlear implant.
    • Cosmetic metal implants, such as in your ears, or tattooed eyeliner.
  • Had recent surgery on a blood vessel.  In some cases, you may not be able to have the MRI test.
  • Have an intrauterine device (IUD) in place.  An IUD may prevent you from having the MRI test done.
  • Become very nervous in confined spaces.  You need to lie very still inside the MRI magnet, so you may need medicine to help you relax.  Some MRI machines have a wider opening (bore), and you may be able to have the test done in a machine that is not as confining as standard MRI machines.
  • Have any other health conditions, such as kidney problems or sickle cell anemia, that may prevent you from having an MRI using contrast material.
  • Wear any medicine patches.  The MRI may cause a burn at the patch site.
You may need to arrange for someone to drive you home after the test, if you are given a medicine (sedative) to help you relax.  For an MRI of the abdomen or pelvis, you may be asked to not eat or drink for several hours before the test.
You may need to sign a consent form that says you understand the risks of an MRI and agree to have the test done.  Talk to your doctor about any concerns you have regarding the need for the test, its risks, how it will be done, or what the results will mean.
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