Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

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 is used to see the type, size, and location of tumors. It is also used to check your response to certain treatments. Your MRI will take 30 to 60 minutes.

Preparing for 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.
  • If it is hard for you to lie still for about 1 hour, or if you’re afraid of being in a narrow or small space, talk with your doctor ahead of time. He or she may prescribe medication to help you be more comfortable.
  • 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:
    • Arrange for a responsible adult to take you home
    • Do not eat anything after midnight the night before
    • Between midnight and up until 2 hours before your scheduled arrival time, you may drink a total of 8 ounces of clear liquids. This includes the liquids you need to swallow any medications you were instructed to take the morning of your procedure. Examples of clear liquids include:
      • Coffee or tea, without milk or cream
      • Soda, such as 7-Up®, Sprite®, ginger ale, seltzer, or Gatorade®
      • Clear fruit juices with no pulp, such as cranberry, grape, or apple
      • Gelatin, such as Jello®
      • Clear broth, bouillon, or consommé (no particles of dried food or seasonings)
    • Starting 2 hours before your scheduled arrival time, do not drink anything, including water. Do not chew gum or suck on hard candies.
    • Leave all valuables, such as credit cards and jewelry, at home.
    • If you wear contact lenses, wear your glasses instead.
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The Day of Your MRI

  • If you are receiving anesthesia for your MRI, you may drink only 8 ounces of clear liquids between midnight and up until 2 hours before your scheduled arrival time. Do not eat or drink anything after that time.
  • You may take your medication as usual.
  • 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. We may ask you to remove the patch before your MRI. This is because metal in the patch may heat up during your MRI and cause burns. If you wear a fentanyl patch, you can leave it on during your MRI.
  • If your doctor prescribed medication to help you relax during your MRI, bring it with you. Take it 30 to 60 minutes before your MRI.
  • Contrast dye might be used during your MRI to make it easier to see any disease. It will be given through an intravenous (IV) catheter placed in your hand or arm. If you have had a reaction to contrast dye in the past, call your doctor’s office. If you are going to get contrast dye, your doctor or nurse will discuss it with you first. If you are between the ages of 11 and 50, this discussion will include questions about any chance you might be pregnant.
  • You will change into a hospital gown before going into the scanning area. For safety reasons, you will place your clothing, credit and ATM 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.
  • You will be taken to the scanning room and helped onto the MRI table. The MRI machine is a large, donut-shaped magnet. It makes a loud tapping noise while the scan is in progress. Your technologist will offer you earplugs or earphones to listen to music. When you have been made as comfortable as possible on the MRI table, your technologist will slide it into the magnetic part of the machine. You will be able to speak with your technologist during the entire scan.
  • It is important to lie still and breathe normally during the scan. The scan itself does not hurt, but lying on the table for 30 to 60 minutes may be uncomfortable. If you think this will be a problem for you, tell your doctor before you come for the scan.
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After Your MRI

  • When your MRI is complete, the scanning table will be moved from the machine and you will be helped off the table. After you get your belongings, you may leave the MRI suite.
  • There are no restrictions after your MRI and no special care is needed.
  • Your radiologist will send a report to your doctor. The results of your MRI will be used with other test results to plan your care.
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If you have any questions or concerns, talk with a member of your healthcare team. You can reach them Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm at ____________________. After 5:00 pm, during the weekend, and on holidays, please call____________________. If there’s no number listed, or you’re not sure, call 212-639-2000.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
©2016 Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center - Generated on February 11, 2016