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MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging. It is a non-invasive medical imaging technique that uses a strong magnetic field and radio waves to create detailed images of internal body structures.   It does not use radiation. 

The length of time an MRI takes can vary depending on the body part being imaged.  Generally, an MRI scan can take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour or more. However, more complex scans, such as those involving the brain or spine, may take longer.  This is not a fast test.  And it can be very loud. 

Most people do not experience pain during an MRI. However, some people may feel uncomfortable lying still for an extended period especially if you have back pain or may feel claustrophobic in the narrow tube where the imaging takes place. If you are anxious about the procedure, you can ask for some sedation with Ativan perhaps before the MRI.  Or even have anesthesiology sedate you. Another option is an open MRI.  Open MRIs are not available everywhere but it may be possible. 

An MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) can be used to diagnose a wide range of medical conditions, including:

  • Brain and nervous system conditions, such as brain tumors, multiple sclerosis, or stroke - Commonly ordered by Neurologists

  • Spinal cord conditions, such as herniated discs, spinal cord injuries, or spinal tumors

  • Joint and bone conditions, such as torn ligaments, fractures, or arthritis - Commonly ordered by Orthopedics

  • Breast cancer, as an MRI can be used to create detailed images of breast tissue

  • Heart conditions, such as heart valve problems or blocked blood vessels - Called a Cardiac MRI

  • Abdominal and pelvic conditions, such as ovarian cancer, uterine fibroids, or prostate cancer

  • Liver and gallbladder conditions, such as liver tumors or gallstones - Called an MRCP

  • Kidney and bladder conditions, such as kidney stones or bladder tumors

  • Soft tissue and muscle conditions, such as rotator cuff tears or muscle injuries

  • Blood vessel conditions, such as aneurysms or blocked blood vessels.

Who cannot have MRIs?  Because it is a magnet, some metals implanted in the body cannot go into a MRI

  • Metallic joint prostheses - New joints are "MRI compatible"

  • Some cochlear implants.

  • Some types of clips used for brain aneurysms.

  • Some types of metal coils placed within blood vessels.

  • Some older cardiac defibrillators and pacemakers - new ones are "MRI compatible" .

  • Vagal nerve stimulators.


Some things must be removed before an MRI. 


Please let your doctor know if:

  • Are pregnant.

  • Are not able to lie on your back for 30 to 60 minutes.

  • Have claustrophobia (fear of enclosed or narrow spaces).


Click here to watch a  Video on your MRI - Adult

Click here to watch a Video on MRI for Kids

Look in my Free download section for a simple MRI explained handout

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