Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a painless way for radiologists to look inside your body without using X-rays. MRIs use a large magnet, radio waves and a computer to scan your body and create detailed pictures that cannot be seen with conventional X-rays. MRIs provide important information about the spine, joints and internal organs.
What to expect
When your health care provider refers you for an MRI, it is important to talk about questions or concerns. Inform your provider if you are claustrophobic (fear of being in enclosed or narrow spaces) or are, or have ever been, a machinist, welder, auto mechanic or work with metal in any capacity.
Prior to the MRI, you will be asked if you prefer earplugs or headphones to reduce the noise during the scan. During the MRI, you will lie on a special table that moves into the center of the scanner. It is important to lie very still for the entire scan. You will not feel anything during the MRI, but you may hear a loud tapping noise — this is normal. Some patients may be given an injection of contrast halfway through the scan to improve the image quality.
During the entire procedure, you will be able to communicate with staff should you have questions or concerns.
Preparing for your exam
Preparations will vary depending on your specific procedure and will be discussed during the scheduling process. The information below is routine for all MRIs.