MRI: Magnetic Resonance Imaging
What is Magnetic Resonance Imaging?
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is one of the most advanced diagnostic imaging tools used for the evaluation of many medical conditions. State-of-the-art technology and physician expertise combine to allow Augusta Health Radiology Services to perform advanced MRI applications that evaluate body structures that may be less visible with other imaging methods. MRI uses magnetism and radio waves to produce remarkably clear pictures of your head, spine, or other parts of your body.
Depending on what information your doctor needs, the MRI scan may require the use of contrast-agent given intravenously to enhance the visibility of certain organs, tissues or blood vessels, which help to better assess for disease or injury. If you are nursing an infant, we recommend that you wait 24 hours after receiving IV contrast before resuming breastfeeding.
How Do I Prepare for the Test?
Unless your physician advises otherwise, no special preparation is needed. You will be contacted after your appointment is scheduled by one of our imaging schedulers to complete a safety screening form and answer questions pertaining to your medical history.
The day of your exam:
- Wear loose-fitting clothing without zippers or metallic parts and take all your regular medicines.
- If you are scheduled to receive sedation or pain medication, be sure to have someone with you who can drive you home after the exam.
- You will be more comfortable if you do not eat or drink before the exam. If you are having an exam with IV contrast, please do not eat or drink 2 hours before your exam. If you are having an abdominal MRI, please do not eat or drink 4 hours prior to the exam.
- You will be asked to remove and store any metal objects that might interfere with the magnetic imaging. These include coins, watches and other jewelry, hair clips, keys, eyeglasses, hearing aids, any removable dental work, wallets and any other metallic objects. A locker will be available for your valuables and clothing.
What Happens During a MRI Scan?
After you have removed all metal objects, the technologist will position you on a special table. Your head will be placed in a padded plastic cradle or on a pillow, and the table will slide into the scanner. You will be able to communicate with the technologist during the scan.
For clear pictures, you will be asked to hold very still and relax. In some cases, you will be asked to hold your breath for up to 30 seconds. Any movement, especially of your head or back (even moving your jaw to talk) during the scan will seriously blur the pictures. While the machine is taking your pictures, you will hear rapidly repeating, loud thumping noises coming from the walls of the scanner. During this time, you should breath quietly and normally but otherwise refrain from any movement, coughing or wiggling. When the thumping noise stops, you must refrain from changing your position or moving about. Your exam can take between 15 and 90 minutes to complete.
During the MRI examination, you will be able to listen to music through headphones and communicate with the technologist. XM satellite music is provided. Ask for your favorite music.
...one of the most advanced diagnostic imaging tools used for the evaluation of many medical conditions
Is the MRI Scan Harmful in Any Way?
A MRI scan is a non-invasive and safe test. MRI uses a very strong magnetic field to acquire images.
A scheduler and technologist will ask certain questions about your medical history to ensure the best possible results from your exam and to maintain your safety. If there is any uncertainty about the presence of metal fragments, x-rays may be ordered to screen for metallic objects prior to your MRI.
Any metallic substance on your person can affect the quality of the diagnostic images and can also cause discomfort or even injury when placed into the magnetic field.
It is important that you notify the MRI staff if you have any of the following:
- Cardiac pacemakers & wires
- Automatic defibrillators
- Infusion pumps
- Neurostimulators (Tens-unit)
- Implanted drug infusion device or pump
- Aneurysm or surgical vascular clips
- metallic foreign objects in your eyes
- Pregnant or nursing
- Metal joints or prosthetic devices
- Cochlear implants
- Breast tissue expander(s)
- IVC Filter
- Penile implant
- Steel surgical staple or clip
- Silver backed dermal medication patches
- Body piercing or tattoo
What Happens After the MRI Scan?
Rapid results are essential not only for your peace-of-mind, but also for your physician to begin planning your treatment immediately. A radiologist, who is a physician experienced in MRI and other radiology examinations, will analyze the images and send a report of the diagnosis to your physician. Your physician will discuss the results with you and explain what they mean in relation to your health.
A radiologist, who is a physician experienced in MRI and other radiology examinations, will analyze the images and send a report of the diagnosis to your physician. Your physician will discuss the results with you and explain what they mean in relation to your health.
Billing and Payment
Your physician must provide a referral in order for you to receive a MRI Scan. Some insurance carriers require pre-authorization. Please discuss this with your physician's office staff and your insurance company prior to your exam. Please bring your insurance cards, driver's license, and any films or records from prior exams that relate to your current MRI exam.
You will receive two bills for your exam:
- A bill from the hospital for the MRI scan
- A bill from the radiologist for interpreting your scan