MRI


Referring Providers: Raleigh Radiology makes patient safety a priority. Find out if your patient’s implanted device is MRI safe.

MRI & Patient Safety

 
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a non-invasive medical test that uses a magnetic field and pulses of radio waves to create images of the body’s internal organs and structures. The resulting images reveal details that are invisible or hard to see when using other imaging methods, such as x-rays, ultrasound exams or CT scans.  Physicians often rely on these MRI images in order to properly diagnose a variety of injuries, conditions and diseases.

Raleigh Radiology offers several MRI services to patients, including:

  • Magnetic Resonance Angiography (MRA)
  • Open Bore Magnetic Resonance Imaging (Open Bore MRI)
  • Breast Magnetic Resonance Imaging (Breast MRI)

Raleigh Radiology performs MRI scans to examine the following body parts and organs:

  • Head (to search for brain tumors, aneurysm and nerve injury)
  • Chest (to examine the heart, valves and coronary blood vessels)
  • Blood vessels (to examine the flow of blood through the blood vessels and search for possible aneurysms)
  • Abdomen and pelvis (to search for tumors, bleeding, infection, and blockages in the liver, gallbladder, pancreas, kidneys and bladder)
  • Bones and joints (to look for signs of arthritis, bone marrow problems, bone tumors, cartilage problems, torn ligaments, torn tendons or infection)
  • Spine (to examine the disks and nerves, and look for signs of spinal stenosis, disk bulges and spinal tumors)
  • Breast (to detect and stage breast cancer and examine other breast abnormalities)

Note: Radiation is not involved in an MRI exam. There are no known harmful side effects from the magnetic field or radio wave exposure associated with an MRI exam.

Preparation

There is little preparation needed for an MRI exam. Simply arrive at the Raleigh Radiology office roughly 30 minutes before your scheduled appointment time. We do ask that all patients provide answers to a series of medical history questions before proceeding with the exam.

You will be asked to remove all metal or electronic objects from your body before the exam. This is particularly important, as these objects will interfere with the magnetic field and can be very dangerous if taken into the MRI exam room.

Be sure to tell the radiologist or MRI technologist, if you have any of the following objects and/or devices on your person or inside of your body before the exam begins:

  • Watches and/or jewelry
  • Cell phones and/or other mobile devices
  • Implanted electronic devices
  • Implanted metallic devices (fillings, hearing aids, metallic dentures, artificial heart valves, etc.)

Some patients may feel anxious during a traditional MRI exam due to the limited amount of space inside of the MRI scanner.  An Open Bore MRI is slightly larger than a traditional MRI scanner, creating a less restrictive environment for anxiety-prone patients.  All Raleigh Radiology MRI locations offer Open Bore MRI for patients.

If you are extremely claustrophobic, talk to your technologist. Your doctor may need to prescribe a oral sedative prior to your MRI exam to help you relax. In extreme cases of claustrophobia, IV valium sedation can be administered for patients over the age of 18.

Process

An MRI exam is painless and typically takes between 30 to 45 minutes (plus preparation time) to complete. However, an MRI may take longer than an hour, depending on the number and/or type of MRI exam being conducted.

Before the exam begins, you will be asked to lie on a flat surface that will later be positioned inside of the MRI scanner. During the exam, you should expect to hear loud tapping or thumping noises coming from the MRI scanner. Technologists will provide you with earplugs and/or headphones to help block out some of the noise. We also provide music for patients to listen to while the exam is being completed.

A microphone inside of the MRI scanner will allow you to communicate with the technologist throughout the entire MRI exam. Patients are also given a device to press in the event of intense discomfort, pain or other serious issues occurring during the procedure.

Note: In some cases, an intravenous (IV) contrast may also be used during the MRI exam to better reveal abnormal tissue.

Results

Once the MRI exam is complete, a radiologist will review the resulting MRI images and a report will be sent to your ordering physician within 24 hours. A member of the Raleigh Radiology team will also discuss next steps with you, if necessary.

Schedule an Appointment

If you are interested learning more about MRI options in Raleigh, N.C., contact Raleigh Radiology today at 919-781-1437 (Blue Ridge and Cary locations) and 919-877-5400 (Cedarhurst, Clayton, Wake Forest and Brier Creek locations) for more information or to schedule an MRI exam appointment.

Raleigh Radiology MRI Patient Brochure

Additional Resources

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How big is the MRI machine?

    Open Bore MRI at all Raleigh Radiology locations: 4 feet long & 28 inches in diameter

  • Is there a weight limit on the scanner?

    Yes. Our weight limit is 550 lbs. at all MRI locations.

  • Does my head have to go in the scanner?

    If the body part being evaluated or imaged must be in the center of the scanner, therefore most upper body exams will require you to go in the machine head first.

  • What happens if the electricity goes off?
  • The table has a manual override that enables it to unlock and bring you out of the scanner.
  • Where will you be while I’m in the scanner?

    The technologist will be just outside the scanner door at the opening console. The technologist will also be in visual contact with you through the glass during your exam.

  • How will you know if I need you?

    The technologist will be in contact with you throughout the test. You will also have a call button.

  • Why do I have to have contrast?

    Contrast may enhance the images and gives the radiologist more detailed information about your exam.

  • Will the contrast make me sick?

    It is very unlikely. The only thing you should feel is a coolness at the injection site.

  • Can we do the test without contrast?

    Yes; however, specific information that your physician wants, may not be able to be obtained by doing the test without contrast. The test could be inconclusive.

  • Will I be able to drive after the exam?

    Yes, as long as you did not have to take an oral sedative for your exam.

  • Do I have to hold my breath the whole time I’m in the machine?

    No; however, you may be asked to hold your breath for specific exams for a period of 30 seconds or less as we are obtaining the images.

  • Can you scan my head without putting it in the head coil?

    No. It is the antenna that picks up the signal to create the images of your brain.