Health Library
MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)

What is an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)?

The MRI is a way to take pictures of the body using a large magnet, radio waves, and a computer. The MRI does not use radiation and no side effects have been reported from being in the magnetic field.

The MRI scanner is a large magnet with a circle-shaped opening. Some people say it looks like a tunnel.

There is a table that moves into the opening of the scanner during the test and the patient may hear a series of very loud noises such as hums, knocks, beeps, and clicks. These are normal sounds of the scanner.

The technologist will be able to talk with your child and tell him when the noises will occur and how long the sounds will last. A parent or guardian is welcome in the scan room if the child is awake.

The scanner does not touch or hurt the patient, however if an IV is required for contrast, minimal pain may occur during IV insertion. Contrast is a dye given to enhance the pictures.

MRI Procedure

The entire exam may take from 60-120 minutes depending on the body part being scanned. Expect to be in the department for at least two hours. Your child must hold still for each series of pictures that are three to eight minutes long. Your child may be able to wiggle slightly in between pictures.

If your child cannot hold still, it may be necessary to schedule the appointment with anesthesia or sedation.

A parent or guardian, who has been MRI screened, is welcome in the scan room if the child is awake. Patients scheduled to be awake for the procedure may bring in a DVD to watch during the MR procedure. We also have a large selection of DVDs from which your child can choose.

Before You Arrive

If the patient is scheduled with anesthesia or sedation an anesthesia imaging nurse will contact you with preparation instructions. These must be followed carefully.

If the patient is not scheduled with sedation or anesthesia they may be asked to not eat four hours or drink two hours before the appointment.

When You Arrive

Radiology staff will ask you to fill out some forms asking about allergies, medications, possibility of pregnancy, surgery, and any implanted metal objects.

For your safety and to ensure the quality of your MRI exam, the patient will be asked to change into a hospital garment. All piercings and jewelry will need to be removed before the exam.

All metal and magnetic objects must be kept outside the room, including keys, jewelry, credit cards, beepers, cell phones, and portable computers. Lockers are available to lock up and secure your personal items.

After the MRI

Without sedation or anesthesia, your child should be able to resume normal activities immediately, unless your child’s physician instructs you otherwise.

Results will be available to the ordering doctor and in MyChart within 24 hours.

Last Updated 12/2021

Reviewed By Julie Young
Meet the team.

Radiology and Medical Imaging is home to specialists with a wide variety of backgrounds and areas of focus. 

Contact us.