Magnetic Resonance Imaging


A magnetic resonance (REZ-oh-nans) imaging scan is also called an MRI, a nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) or a magnetic field scan. It is a medical test used to take pictures of the inside of the body. Each picture or "slice" shows only a few layers of body tissue at a time. The MRI machine uses a large magnet, and a computer to make pictures of your body. Pictures taken this way may help caregivers find and see problems in the body more easily. This test usually takes between 15 and 90 minutes.

Picture of a Magnetic Resonance Imaging closed machine



  • Keep a written list of what medicines you take and when and why you take them. Bring the list of your medicines or the pill bottles when you see your caregivers. Ask your caregiver for information about your medicines. Do not take any medicines, over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, herbs, or food supplements without first talking to caregivers. Your caregivers can find out if these medicines interact with other medicines you are taking.

  • Always take your medicine as directed by caregivers. Call your caregiver if you think your medicines are not helping or if you feel you are having side effects. Do not quit taking it until you discuss it with your caregiver.

  • If you are taking medicine that makes you drowsy, do not drive or use heavy equipment.

  • If you were asked to remove your medication skin patch before the MRI, put it back on.

Ask your caregiver when to return for a follow-up visit.

Keep all appointments. Write down any questions you may have. This way you will remember to ask these questions during your next visit.

Drinking Liquids:

Drink six to eight (8 ounce) cups of healthy liquid each day. Follow your caregiver's advice if you must change the amount of liquid you drink. Good liquids for most people to drink are water, milk and juice. Limit the amount of caffeine you drink. Caffeine may be found in coffee, tea, soda, and sports drinks and foods. Drinking plenty of liquids helps flush dye used during the MRI out of your body.


You may drive home after the test if you were not given sedative (SED-ah-tiv) medicine to help you relax during the test. Someone must drive you home if you were given sedative medicine.


Exercise makes the heart stronger, lowers blood pressure, and keeps you healthy. Ask your caregiver to help you plan your exercise program. Start exercising when your caregiver says it is OK. It is best to start slowly and do more as you get stronger.


  • You have any questions or concerns about your injury, illness, medicine, or the MRI.


  • You have trouble breathing. This is an emergency. Call 911 or 0 (operator) for an ambulance to get to the nearest hospital or clinic. Do not drive yourself!

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Magnetic Resonance Imaging (Discharge Care)