FAQs for MRIs

MRI Machine

When it comes time for your first MRI, many questions can arise. What exactly does it reveal? How long does it take? Will it be painful? We have compiled our most frequently asked questions about MRIs to put you at ease and help in your understanding of the process.

  • What does MRI stand for? MRI stands for magnetic resonance imaging. It was given this name because of the magnetic field and radio waves that work together to create images of your body’s organs and tissues. This allows doctors to properly diagnose internal problems that cannot be seen with other technologies, like an x-ray.
  • What are MRI scans for? Doctors and orthopedic surgeons can recommend an MRI for a number of reasons. Some of the most common include diagnosing brain and spinal cord issues, certain heart problems, and for pinpointing pelvic pain in women. Other reasons could be to identify abnormalities in the body, such as tumors, cysts, and issues with the back and joints.
  • What happens during a scan? Patients will be positioned on a table that is attached to the MRI scanner, which slides into the machine. The patient will be given instructions on what is needed and will be able to communicate with the technologist through an intercom system. A scan cannot begin until the patient is relaxed, still, and comfortable in the machine.
  • Will it be painful? An MRI is a painless procedure, but it involves remaining still during the duration of the scan. Image rendering will be disrupted with movement and the patient could be asked to undergo a second scan if the first test is not clear. Depending on your level of comfort, the technologist may need to reposition your head, arms, and legs to limit movement.
  • Is it loud? The noises coming from the machine will be loud, which can be startling for some patients. Many people describe the sounds differently after their MRI is done. Some describe it as a snapping sound, while others may say it sounded like a jackhammer. Ear protection is provided to patients to lower the sound level and keep them calm. Be sure to let the technician know if you are uncomfortable at any point via the intercom to stop the test.
  • I’m claustrophobic. What can I do? Some patients may not realize how claustrophobic they are until they receive their first MRI. If you are already uncomfortable in confined spaces, let the staff know so they can accommodate your needs. Claustrophobic patients may be given medication to keep them relaxed, but this medication needs to be ordered by a doctor prior to the day of the scan. It’s important to alert the technologist of any discomfort, trouble breathing, or panic attacks so the test can be stopped.
  • How long does an MRI take? Time varies depending on the patient and the test being done. Typically, an MRI can last anywhere from twenty minutes to an hour. If the patient was not completely still during the initial test and the results are not clear, a second scan may be needed, which adds more time to the process.
  • Can I receive an MRI at Advanced Surgical Hospital? Yes! At our specialty surgical hospital located outside of Pittsburgh, we have the latest MRI technology, which allows for extremely accurate scans and results. We even have a new, state-of-the art MAVRIC SL technology for MRI, which provides more accurate images of soft tissue around bone and metal. Our imaging staff can obtain clear results and send them off to physicians and orthopedic surgeons for fast, timely results. The staff can schedule MRIs and provide necessary information about the scan prior to your appointment date. Our MRI center is open Monday – Friday, from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

If you have further questions or concerns about your upcoming MRI, we can provide you with answers. Contact us today to learn more about your MRI or to schedule an appointment.