This information will prepare you for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
An MRI is a test that uses strong magnetic fields to produce pictures of the inside of your body. It’s used to see the type, size, and location of tumors. It’s also used to check your response to certain treatments.
Before Your MRI
- If you have a medical implant or device, ask the doctor who put it in for the exact name and manufacturer. If you don’t have this information before your MRI, you may not be able to have it that day.
- During your MRI you will be lying in one position for about 1 hour. If you think you will be uncomfortable lying still or if you’re afraid of being in a narrow or small space, talk with your doctor or nurse ahead of time. They may prescribe medication to help you feel more comfortable.
- If you wear a medication patch on your skin, you may need to remove it before your MRI. This is because metal in the patch may heat up during your MRI and cause burns. Make sure you have an extra medication patch with you to apply after your MRI.
The MRI machine makes loud noises during the scan. This video shows relaxation exercises you can practice before your MRI. You can do these exercises during your scan to feel more comfortable.
You may need to have contrast dye or glucagon on the day of your MRI to help us get a clearer image. Your doctor or nurse will tell you if you will get these.
Contrast is a special dye that makes it easier for your doctor to see differences in your internal organs. Depending on the reason for your MRI and which part of your body is being scanned, your doctor may want you to have your MRI with contrast. If your doctor ordered an MRI with intravenous (IV) contrast, the contrast material will be injected into a vein in your arm or hand.
If you’ve had a reaction to contrast in the past, tell your doctor or nurse.
Your doctor or nurse will ask you if you are pregnant, if you are between the ages of 11 and 50.
If you are breastfeeding, you may choose to continue after your MRI with contrast. If you have questions or would like to discuss contrast and breastfeeding, talk with your radiologist on the day of your MRI.
You may get an injection of glucagon during your MRI. Glucagon is a hormone made by your body that raises blood sugar. During your MRI, the glucagon will relax the muscles in your stomach and intestines. This will make the pictures clearer. If you have diabetes or have not eaten the day of your MRI, you cannot get glucagon.
For People Receiving Anesthesia
If your healthcare provider told you that you would receive anesthesia (medication to make you sleepy) while you have your MRI, you must follow the additional instructions below.
Before Your MRI
You must have someone 18 years or older take you home after your procedure. If you don’t have anyone, call one of the agencies below. They will provide someone to accompany you home. However, there is usually a charge for this service and you will also need to provide transportation.
In New York:
Partners in Care 888-735-8913
Prime Care 212-944-0244
In New York or New Jersey:
Caring People 877-227-4649
Do not eat solid foods after midnight the night before your MRI.
The Day of Your MRI
Between midnight and up until 2 hours before your scheduled arrival time, you may drink a total of 12 ounces of clear liquids (see Figure 1).
Examples of clear liquids include:
Starting 2 hours before your scheduled arrival time, do not eat or drink anything. This includes water, hard candy, and gum.
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The Day of Your MRI
- Refer to the printed reminder you received from your doctor’s office for the time and location of your MRI.
- If you wear a medication patch on your skin, bring an extra one with you.
- If your doctor prescribed medication to help you relax during your MRI, take it 30 to 60 minutes before your MRI.
- If you are getting a glucagon injection, make sure you eat breakfast or lunch before your MRI.
You will change into a hospital gown before going into the scanning area. For safety reasons, you will place your clothing, credit cards, and any objects (such as your phone, jewelry, coins, and glasses), in a locker. This is because objects with even a small amount of metal can fly into the magnet, and the magnet can damage mobile phones and credit cards.
Your technologist will bring you to the scanning room and help you onto the MRI table. The MRI machine is a large, donut-shaped magnet. It makes a loud tapping noise during the scan. Your technologist will offer you earplugs or earphones to listen to music.
Once you are comfortable on the MRI table, your technologist will slide it into the magnetic part of the machine and begin the scan. You will be able to speak with your technologist during the entire scan.
It’s important to lie still and breathe normally during the scan. You may want to do your relaxation exercises during your MRI.
Your MRI will take 30 to 60 minutes.Back to top
After Your MRI
- When your MRI is finished, you will be helped off the table. After you get your belongings, you can leave.
- If you received anesthesia, you will be taken to the Post-Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU) after your MRI. You will stay there until you are fully awake.
- There are no restrictions after your MRI and no special care is needed.
- Your radiologist will send a report of your scan to your doctor. Your doctor will use the results of your MRI to help plan your care.