Preparing for Your MRI

MRI procedures are typically covered by insurance plans, but you may be required to obtain authorization from your insurance provider prior to your exam.

Please download and complete the Screening Consent Form. You should download the Patient Preparation Instructions above and call Fast Track Admissions (404-778-XRAY) prior to your exam date to preregister.

Because MRI uses strong magnetic fields, certain metallic materials within your body may present a danger. Before scheduling your procedure, let your doctor know if you have any of the following:

  • Tattoos (some older tattoo ink may contain traces of metal)
  • A pacemaker
  • A neurostimulator
  • Ear implants
  • Metal clips in your eyes
  • Implanted port devices
  • An intrauterine device (IUD)
  • Metal plates, pins, screws or surgical staples
  • Metal clips from an aneurysm repair
  • Retained bullets
  • Metal fragments
  • Any other metal objects implanted in your body (tooth fillings and braces are not usually a problem)

You should also tell your doctor if your occupation involves work with metal filings or particles. In addition, let your referring doctor know if you have ever had claustrophobic reactions to enclosed spaces. If so, your referring doctor may be prescribed a sedative to take prior to the procedure.

If your doctor prescribes a sedative, you should:

  • Arrange for a ride to and from the exam
  • Not eat or drink at least four hours before the exam
  • Bring your medication with you
  • Inform the receptionist at the check in desk you have medication for sedation
  • You will take your medication with a sip of water 30 minutes before the MRI scan

If your doctor has scheduled you for IV sedation during your MRI you should:

  • Not eat or drink at least 6 hours before the exam
  • Take prescribed medications with minimal sips of water
  • Arrange for a driver to bring you to the exam, wait for you and drive you home

In the days leading up to your MRI exam, we may ask you to avoid using hair gel, hair spray, lotions, powders and cosmetics. If your doctor has not prescribed a sedative for you, you may eat and drink normally, unless your doctor or the technologist tells you otherwise.

The Day of Your MRI

Most MRIs take approximately 20 to 30 minutes to complete. If you are having more than one site imaged or a more complicated study, your MRI will take longer. You should plan to arrive 30 minutes prior to your exam for registration. If you require sedation, please arrive one hour prior to your appointment.

For your maximum safety you will be asked to change into hospital-provided attire.

Once at the MRI center, we will ask you about:

  • Your medical history
  • Any medications you take
  • Any medication allergies you have
  • Whether you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant
  • Whether you have any metal objects in your body

We will ask you to remove any metal-containing items, such as jewelry (including body piercings), hairpins, hearing aids, glasses, wigs with metal clips and some nonpermanent dentures. We may take an X-ray beforehand if we have any concern about metal objects in your body. Your referring physician may request injection of an IV material called gadolinium that helps the radiologist read your exam results. This contrast dye contains no iodine and is generally very safe and well tolerated.

The MRI Procedure

Please be advised that our image information gathering process is not as simple as an ordinary X-ray. You will need to lie very still for periods of time while we acquire the images. Each image set may take from 5 seconds up to several minutes. We will make every effort to make you as comfortable as possible while you are being imaged.

For the exam, we will position you on a special moveable table. Depending on your medical condition, we may place monitors on you to keep track of your vital signs. We may also provide you with earplugs or headphones to help muffle the banging noise the MRI machine makes during the exam.

After you lie on the table your MRI technologist will slide you into the MRI cylinder. Your MRI technologist will leave the room in order to perform the MRI scanning from the control room. At all times, your technologist will be able see you and speak to you, or hear you speaking through an intercom system. When your technologist is setting up a scan, and during scans, you will hear knocking or buzzing sounds. The table may occasionally move in order to better center the area of your body being scanned within the magnet.

After the MRI exam, we will ask you to remain in the waiting room until we review the MRI images for completeness.