Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses powerful magnets, radio waves and a computer to construct pictures of the body depicting details that can’t be seen using other imaging techniques. It is one of the safest imaging techniques available because it uses magnetic signals to see through the body instead of exposing the patient to radiation. In addition to safety, MRIs offer a number of other significant patient benefits including:
- Early detection of many conditions
- Excellent information from detailed images
- No known harmful side effects
- Non-invasive procedure
Our team members’ compassion and understanding help maximize patient comfort during an MRI exam. At many of our imaging centers, we offer a wide variety of comfort services designed specifically to lessen anxiety patients often experience when getting an MRI or imaging exam.
At BayCare Health System, we’re committed to making the most advanced MRI technology available to our patients and to maintaining the highest level of imaging excellence.
How do I prepare for the exam?
- At the time you schedule your appointment, you will receive specific instructions, such as diet restrictions, as preparation for your MRI will vary depending upon the type of exam you are scheduled to receive. The representative will also verify your health and insurance information.
- If available, please bring previous imaging results (MRI, CT scan, X-rays), such as reports or films.
- Due to the magnetic field of the MRI, you will be asked to wear metal-free clothing or to change into a gown. You will also be asked to remove any metallic objects, such as jewelry, watches and hair clips.
- It is important to inform your technologist of prior surgeries or metal implants, such as pacemakers, aneurysm clips or inner ear prosthetics.
- Notify a BayCare Imaging Professional if you are nursing or if there is a chance you may be pregnant.
- Please arrive 15 minutes prior to your appointment to verify your registration information. If you require IV sedation for pain or claustrophobia (only available at hospital locations), you must arrange for this at the time of scheduling and arrive 30 minutes early.
What should I expect during the exam?
- You will lie on a cushioned table. In most cases, an imaging device called a "coil" will be placed around the area of the body to be scanned.
- Once you are comfortably positioned, the table will move into the magnet opening.
- You will hear tapping and knocking sounds for a few minutes at a time as the images are being acquired. It is important to lie as still as possible during this part of the exam to help ensure clear images.
- In some cases, you will need contrast material to further aid in detection or diagnosis of potential abnormalities. In this instance, an IV will be placed in your hand or arm before the exam begins. Once the contrast is injected, you may feel a warm, flushed sensation and experience a metallic taste in your mouth that lasts for about two minutes.
What happens after the exam?
- A radiologist who specializes in the specific area of the body that was examined will review your images.
- The radiologist prepares a diagnostic report to share with your doctor.
- Your doctor will consider this information in context of your overall care and talk with you about the results.
Types of MRI Procedures
MRIs are particularly good at detecting changes in the tissues and organs that may be caused by infection, disease or trauma. MRIs are commonly performed in these key regions:
- Blood vessels
An MRI provides the most precise, sophisticated visualization of the brain and spine available. An MRI helps in the early detection and diagnosis of brain and nervous system disorders, such as multiple sclerosis, tumors, spinal diseases, hydrocephalus, stroke and traumatic injuries.
Orthopedic/Sports Medicine Imaging
An MRI is superb at closely visualizing joints and the surrounding tendons, ligaments and cartilage. This is particularly helpful with sports-related injuries.
An MRI complements a CT scan in looking at anatomic and pathologic processes in the chest, abdomen and pelvis. An MRI is replacing invasive procedures, such as angiography, and ERCPs in the evaluation of the gallbladder and biliary ducts.
Although an MRI is a convenient and safe procedure, there are some contraindications. Because the exam uses a strong magnetic field, contraindications include cardiac pacemakers, brain aneurysm surgical clips, inner ear prosthetics and pain spinal simulator devices. Notify your technologist or physician if you feel any of these may be an issue for you.
To make an appointment, please call:
Hillsborough County: (813) 635-3610
Pinellas/Pasco Counties: (727) 461-8555