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    Learning About Your Health

    MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)

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    What is MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)?

    An MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) is a test that uses a powerful magnet, computer, and radio waves to take pictures inside your body (for example, muscles, organs, and bones). This helps your doctor find the cause of your illness. An MRI is painless, and you do not receive any radiation.

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    Before Your MRI

    • Your doctor gives you a referral form that tells the MRI Center what area of your body to scan. Bring this form to your appointment. Before your MRI, make sure your doctor's office faxes this form to the MRI Center where you have your test (see fax numbers above).

    • Please bring a list of all medicines you take.

    • You may bring a family member or friend to be with you during the scan.

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    During Your MRI

    • The MRI usually takes 30-60 minutes. This test does not cause discomfort or pain for most people.

    • You remove all jewelry, glasses, hairpins, and hearing aids before your MRI.

    • You also leave any metal or magnetic objects outside of the MRI scanning area. You may have an x-ray taken to check for any metal in your body.

    • You lie comfortably on your back with support under your knees. You need to stay very still during the exam.

    • You are put into the MRI scanner, which is a large, tube-shaped machine (see picture above). The scanner has an "open" design which reduces the feeling of being "closed in."

    • The MRI scanner makes rapid, loud "knocking" sounds during scanning. You are offered earplugs for your comfort.
    • If you have an MRI scan of the pelvis, a substance may be put into the muscle to improve the scan.

    • If you have an MR Arthrogram, a liquid (called a contrast) is put into a vein within the joint being scanned. The contrast helps the doctor see the MRI more clearly.

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    Getting Your Test Results

    Usually, the results are given to your primary (regular) doctor within 1 day of your test.

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    More Ways to Learn

    Visit the RadiologyInfoOpens new window Web site.

    Note: This handout is also available in Chinese, Russian, and Spanish.

    Produced by the Center for Patient and Community Education in association with the Department of Radiology at California Pacific Medical Center. Last updated: 6/07

    Photo by Bill Posner.

    Funded by: A generous donation from the Mr. and Mrs. Arthur A. Ciocca Foundation.

    Note: This information is not meant to replace any information or personal medical advice which you get directly from your doctor(s). If you have any questions about this information, such as the risks or benefits of the treatment listed, please ask your doctor(s).

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