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Magnetic Resonance Imaging


Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

is a test that uses magnetic fields and radio waves to take pictures inside your body. An MRI is used to see blood vessels, tissue, muscles, and bones. It can also show organs, such as your heart, lungs, or liver. An MRI can help your healthcare provider diagnose or treat a medical condition. It does not use radiation.

Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) if:

  • You have signs of an allergic reaction to the contrast liquid, such as trouble breathing, swelling of your mouth or face, or fainting.

Seek care immediately if:

  • You are dizzy or feel faint.
  • You have a rash, itching, or swollen skin.
  • You have nausea or are vomiting.
  • You are suddenly urinating less than usual.

Call your doctor if:

  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

How to prepare for an MRI:

  • Your healthcare provider will tell you what medicines to take or not take on the day of your MRI. He or she may give you medicine to help you feel calm and relaxed during the MRI.
  • Tell your provider if you know or think you are pregnant.
  • Tell your provider if you have any metal in your body, such as a pacemaker, implant, or aneurism clip. Tell him or her if you have a tattoo or wear a medicine patch.
  • Remove any metal items, such as hair clips, jewelry, glasses, hearing aids, or dentures before you enter the MRI room.

What will happen during an MRI:

Your healthcare provider will ask you to lie on a table. Contrast liquid may be used to help a body part show up more clearly. The table will be moved into an open space in the middle of the machine. You will need to lie still during the MRI. It is normal to hear knocking, thumping, or clicking noises from the machine.

Risks of an MRI:

An MRI may cause a metal object in your body to move out of place and cause serious injury, or stop working properly. The contrast liquid may cause nausea, a headache, lightheadedness, or pain at the injection site. You could have an allergic reaction to the contrast liquid.

Drink liquids as directed:

Liquids will help flush the contrast liquid out of your body. Ask how much liquid to drink after your MRI, and which liquids to drink.

Follow up with your doctor as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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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 (Ambulatory Care)

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.