MRI: What is an Magnetic Resonance Imaging Machine?

MRI stands for magnetic resonance imaging, and it is a computerized imaging technique that uses magnetic and radio waves rather than ionizing radiation (x-rays) to produce detailed images of the inside of your body. Detailed pictures of bones, tissues, organs, and internal body structures can be seen, allowing doctors to determine the presence of disease.

MRI’s can be used when you are pregnant to monitor the baby and are also used to help diagnose and monitor treatment for a variety of conditions. This kind of medical test is noninvasive and helps physicians diagnose all kinds of medical conditions. The produced digital images are able to be viewed on a computer monitor, where they then can be transmitted electronically, uploaded to a cloud server, burned to a CD, saved to a jump drive, or even printed.

Some of the Conditions That Cen Be Diagnosed or Monitored Using an MRI

• Pregnancy
• Multiple sclerosis
• Heart problems (i.e., congenital heart disease)
• Tumors
• Inflammatory bowel disease (i.e., ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease)
• Inflammation and malformations of the blood vessels
• Diseases of the liver
• Stroke
• Abnormalities of the pancreas
• Joint abnormalities

How to Prepare for an MRI

There is not a lot of preparation for an MRI exam. Unless instructed otherwise, you can still eat and take your normal medications as directed. To help prevent valuables such as jewelry from being lost or stolen, leave them at home. Jewelry will have to be removed prior to entering the scan room, as well as any hairpins, dentures, hearing aids, eyeglasses, watches, wigs, and underwire bras. To help eliminate possible safety issues, wear comfortable, metal-free clothing that is loose-fitting. Also, because some cosmetics contain metallic substances, you should not wear any makeup to your appointment.

Be sure to arrive 15 to 30 minutes prior to your exam. Upon checking in with the receptionist, you may have to complete an MRI screening form and other paperwork. Come prepared with your identification, insurance card(s), as well as a list of your current medications (if any). If you are pregnant or if there is a possibility you could be pregnant, have an allergy to iodine, have any serious health problems, or have had any recent surgeries, tell the radiologist.