What is MRI?
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) technology uses a strong magnet, which is shaped like a long tube. The patient lies on a table that travels inside the tube. The strong magnetic field and radio waves are used to collect information about the patient’s body. Computers use this data to construct cross-sectional images often called “slices.” These slices can be constructed in any plane, and give the doctor detailed information about the anatomy in each specific location. There is no ionizing radiation involved in having an MRI scan.
Regional West has two 1.5 Tesla MRI scanners. One is conveniently located within Medical Plaza North, near physician clinics. The other scanner is located in the main Imaging Services department at main campus. Prior to your arrival, please confirm your MRI exam location with Scheduling Services.
Outpatient MRI scans can be scheduled from 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, as well as Saturday and Sunday from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Please note that nearly all insurance companies require pre-authorization before they will cover an MRI scan for an outpatient. We will be working with your insurance to get authorizations. This can take a few days to receive. MRI service is available around the clock for inpatients and emergency patients.
What to expect during an MRI exam
First, someone from the MRI area will go over a screening form with you to confirm that you have no implanted devices or metal inside your body that would make it unsafe for you to enter the MRI scanner. Because some types of fabric fibers can react to the strong magnetic field, you will be required to change into hospital attire.
During the MRI exam, you will lie on a table that enters the bore of the magnet. You won’t feel anything, but the machine is very noisy as it goes through several sequences of images, so you will be given hearing protection headphones. Feel free to listen to your favorite music or choose from music already on file to help pass the time. Most MRI exams are completed within 30 to 60 minutes. Some MRI exams will require the use of IV contrast. This contrast is injected into a vein through an IV while the images are being obtained.
During the exam, a registered radiologic technologist will care for you. This technologist is specially certified in MRI imaging by American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT). The technologist will assist you into the correct position, plan the scan, and operate the equipment. A tech aide will assist the technologist and help with paperwork, set up the scan room, and help you through the exam.
A board certified radiologist examines the images and sends the report directly to your physician or provider, who will contact you with the results.