At Intermountain Healthcare, we know that Comfort Matters, even when you may not be visiting one of our facilities under the best of circumstances.  The Intermountain Imaging Services team will do everything we can to make sure you are as comfortable as possible during your MRI exam. If you're cold during the test, we'll get you a warm blanket.  If you don't understand an instruction, we'll stop and gently explain it to you.  From the time you schedule your imaging test to the time you receive your results, we want your experience with Intermountain Imaging Services to be as comfortable as possible.

How long will it take?

An MRI test usually takes 30 to 60 minutes but can take as long as 2 hours.

What happens during the test?

A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) test is usually done by an MRI technologist.  The pictures are usually interpreted by a radiologist, but some other types of doctors can also interpret an MRI scan.

You will need to remove all metal objects (such as hearing aids, dentures, jewelry, watches, and hairpins) from your body because these objects may be attracted to the powerful magnet used for the test.

You will need to take off all or most of your clothes, depending on which area is examined (you may be allowed to keep on your underwear if it is not in the way).  You will be given a gown to use during the test.  If you are allowed to keep some of your clothes on, you should empty your pockets of any coins and cards (such as credit cards or ATM cards) with scanner strips on them because the MRI magnet may erase the information on the cards.

During the test you usually 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.
Some people feel nervous (claustrophobic) inside the MRI machine.  If this keeps you from lying still, you can be given a medicine (sedative) to help you relax.
Inside the scanner you will hear a fan and feel air moving.  You may also hear tapping, clicking or snapping noises as the MRI scans are taken.  You may be given earplugs or headphones with music to reduce the noise.  It is very important to hold completely still while the scan is being done.  You may be asked to hold your breath for short periods of time.
During the test, you may be alone in the scanner room, but the technologist will watch you through a window.  You will be able to talk with the technologist through a two-way intercom.
If contrast material is needed, the technologist will put it in an intravenous line in your arm.

What happens after the test?

If contrast was used in your test, you may want to drink plenty of water to flush it out of your body.  A radiologist, a doctor with special training in reading the results of MRI scans and other imaging tests, will analyze the images and send a report to your doctor.  Your doctor will tell you the results, usually in a follow-up appointment.  The information gained during the MRI scan will help your doctor diagnose your condition and choose the best treatment.
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