Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

MRI is an advanced medical imaging technique that uses strong magnetic fields to produce images of the body without the use of radiation or X-rays. MRIs are especially helpful in diagnosing soft-tissue injury or disease in the spine, joints, blood vessels, organs, and brain.

MRI is commonly used to diagnose or evaluate:

  • Degenerative disorders (bone, joint, and spine)
  • Fractures not visible with X-ray
  • Herniated discs
  • Neck and back pain
  • Tears or other injuries to tendons, ligaments, and muscles
  • Spinal cord trauma
  • Abdominal and pelvic tumors
  • Cancer–including breast cancer
  • Stroke

What is an MRI?

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

Technician preparing man for MRI scan.Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a test that lets your doctor see detailed pictures of the inside of your body. MRI combines the use of strong magnets and radio waves to form an MRI image.

How do I get ready for an MRI?

  • Follow any directions you are given for not eating or drinking before the test.

  • Ask your provider if you should stop taking any medicine before the test.

  • Follow your normal daily routine unless your provider tells you otherwise.

  • You'll be asked to remove your watch, jewelry, hearing aids, credit cards, pens, pocket knives, eyeglasses, and other metal objects.

  • You may be asked to remove your makeup. Makeup may contain some metal.

  • Most MRI tests take 30 to 60 minutes. Depending on the type of MRI you are having, the test may take longer. Give yourself extra time to check in.


MRI uses strong magnets. Metal is affected by magnets and can distort the image. The magnet used in MRI can cause metal objects in your body to move. If you have a metal implant, you may not be able to have an MRI unless the implant is certified as MRI safe. People with these implants should not have an MRI:

  • Ear (cochlear) implants

  • Certain clips used for brain aneurysms

  • Certain metal coils put in blood vessels

  • Most defibrillators

  • Most pacemakers

Be sure to tell the radiologist or technologist if you:

  • Have had any previous surgeries

  • Have a pacemaker, surgical clips, metal plate or pins, an artificial joint, staples or screws, ear (cochlear) implants, or other implants

  • Wear a medicated adhesive patch

  • Have metal splinters in your body

  • Have implanted nerve stimulators or drug-infusion ports

  • Have tattoos or body piercings. Some tattoo inks contain metal.

  • Work with metal

  • Have braces. You must remove any dental work.

  • Have a bullet or other metal in your body

Also tell the radiologist or technologist if you:

  • Are pregnant or think you may be

  • Are afraid of small, enclosed spaces (claustrophobic)

  • Are allergic to X-ray dye (contrast medium), iodine, shellfish, or any medicines

  • Have other allergies

  • Are breastfeeding

  • Have a history of cancer

  • Have any serious health problems. This includes kidney disease or a liver transplant. You may not be able to have the contrast material used for MRI.

What happens during an MRI?

  • You may be asked to wear a hospital gown.

  • You may be given earplugs to wear if you need them.

  • You may be injected with a special dye (contrast) that improves the MRI image. 

  • You’ll lie down on a platform that slides into the magnet.

What happens after an MRI?

  • You can get back to normal activities right away. If you were given contrast, it will pass naturally through your body within a day. You may be told to drink more water or other fluids during this time. 

  • Your doctor will discuss the test results with you during a follow-up appointment or over the phone.

  • Your next appointment is: __________________