Magnetic Resonance Imaging

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What is an MRI?

MRI is a safe, painless way to get the best possible view inside the human body. The exam uses a large magnet, radio waves and computer technology to produce high quality images. MRI is used to diagnose many conditions of the brain, spine, joints, muscles, abdomen, breast, heart, prostate and blood vessels.

What can I expect?

You will be asked to lie on a table that slides inside the hole, or "bore," of the magnet. Wide-bore MRI is available at Legacy Good Samaritan, Meridian Park and Mount Hood. A wide-bore option can be especially helpful for claustrophobic or bariatric patients.

Small devices called coils may be placed around your head, arm, or leg to help send and receive the radio waves and improve the quality of the images. During the scan, you will hear a knocking sound that the magnet makes.

Several sets of images are usually needed, each taking 2 - 15 minutes, and the exam may take 90 minutes or longer. It's important that you lie as still as possible to make sure that we get the sharpest images. Ask for medications to relax you before your MRI test.

Some exams require a special dye called contrast material, which is usually given before the test through a vein in your hand or forearm. The dye helps the radiologist see certain areas more clearly.


How will it feel?

We will do everything we can to make you as comfortable as possible. Blankets, pillows, and earplugs are available, and an intercom lets you talk with the person operating the scanner at any time.

If you receive contrast material through a vein, you might feel a metallic taste in the mouth and a warm flushing of the body. These feelings are normal, and they usually go away in a few seconds. 

There is no recovery time after an MRI, unless you request sedation. After the scan you can go back to your normal diet, activity, and medications.

How should I prepare?

  • Please tell the health care provider if you have brain aneurysm clips, a pacemaker, automatic internal defibrillator (AID), artificial heart valves, inner ear (cochlear) implants or recently placed artificial joints. Depending on the type of metal in these devices, you may not be eligible for an MRI.
  • You will be asked to remove jewelry and wear a hospital gown during the scan.
  • If contrast material will be used, you may be asked not to eat or drink for one hour before the scan. Children will be asked not to eat or drink for four hours before the scan.


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