What Is an MRI?

MRI stands for “magnetic resonance imaging.” An MRI is a type of medical imaging technology that uses a magnetic field, radio waves, coils and computers to produce sharp images of the body. MRI is a non-invasive, pain-free imaging modality that can be used to visualize all soft tissues, including the heart. It is excellent for diagnosing strokes, multiple sclerosis, cancer, bone and joint pathology, herniated discs and compression fractures in the spine and much more.

What Is an MRA?

Magnetic resonance angiography, MRA, is simply a specialized MRI exam that uses select pulse sequences to take detailed pictures of the vessels that carry blood to and from major organs. This exam normally requires a contrast injection. AN MRA is used to diagnose vascular stenosis, aneurysm, dissection or congenital variation or malformation.

What Is Contrast?

Gadolinium-based contrast agents are sometimes used in MRI to provide additional information for the interpreting radiologist. Patients who meet certain criteria will be required to have lab work prior to a contrast-enhanced MRI. Previous contrast reactions should be reported to the scanning technologist. The contrast is excreted through the urine within 24 hours.

Before Your Exam

Before your MRI, please fill out the MRI screening form. You should receive a reminder call from the MRI Center on the evening prior to your scheduled exam.

Patients who are having an MRI that involves another department, such as radiology or lab, will be required to check in at the Admitting Office located by Outpatient Services on the first floor prior to reporting to the MRI Center.

You may be able to wear your own clothes during the MRI. Remember to wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing without metallic snaps, buttons or zippers. Gowns are provided when necessary.

If you experience anxiety in small or confined spaces, you may bring prescribed anti-anxiety medication with you to take before your exam. The tech will let you know when to take the meds. If oral medication does not suffice, IV and anesthesia sedation is available to help with severe claustrophobia and pain. A driver must accompany you to your MRI when sedation is required.

You may not eat for six hours prior to any MRI or MRA of the abdomen, or if you are having IV or anesthesia sedation. In addition, only certain medications are allowed prior to sedation.

What to Expect

You will be given earplugs for protection of the loud noise produced by the MRI machine. Depending upon the exam, some patients may be able to listen to music during the MRI.

Since motion is very degrading to the quality of the images, the MRI technologist will remind you to hold very still during the knocking noise. Most exams last between 30 and 60 minutes.

During an MRI exam, the technologist can see you, hear you and speak to you. You will be given a ball to squeeze should you need the technologist’s immediate attention. One guest may accompany you into the scan room after completing the guest screening form. Personal tours can be arranged prior to your exam by calling the MRI Center at 254-751-4674.

Report Information

The MRI technologist is not allowed to discuss the results of the MRI exam. A licensed radiologist will interpret the study and a report will be automatically faxed to the referring physician usually within two business days.

Call reports are available upon requests.