What Is an MRI Scan Like?


Quick Answer

Prior to an MRI, the patient removes all metal jewelry or objects and changes into a hospital gown, states WebMD. She lays on a lightly padded table that slides into the MRI scanner that looks like a large tube. During the scan, a patient may hear tapping and buzzing noises.

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What Is an MRI Scan Like?
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Full Answer

As the technologist conducts the scan, the patient lies still, though she may be asked to hold her breath at intervals during the exam, notes WebMD. If the ordering physician requests an exam with contrast, the technologist administers it intravenously and then takes more pictures.

MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging, creates precise images of organs, bones and soft tissues through a strong magnetic field and radio frequencies, explains RadiologyInfo.org. The noninvasive procedure is used to examine and evaluate the organs of the chest, abdomen and pelvis. It is also used to study the brain, spinal cord, blood vessels and lymph nodes.

MRIs pose little risk to the patient, according to MedicineNet.com. The detailed images created without exposure to X-ray radiation are an advantage compared to C/T and X-ray imaging studies. However, because of the strong magnetic field, MRIs are contraindicated in patients with metallic implants, due to significant image distortion and the potential for such implants to be pulled by the magnet. Claustrophobic patients may find the enclosed space of the MRI scanner threatening. The physician can order a mild sedative to help reduce anxiety.

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