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Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses a large magnet and radio waves to look at organs and structures inside your body. Health care professionals use MRI scans to diagnose a variety of conditions, from torn ligaments to tumors. MRIs are very useful for examining the brain, spinal cord, and extremities.

During the scan, you will lie on a table inside a tunnel-shaped machine. The scan can take longer if you are moving, so it is important to stay still. The scan is painless. The MRI machine does make a lot of noise, but our technician will offer you earplugs.


Before your scan, tell our medical staff if you are:

  • Pregnant;
  • Have pieces of metal in your body. You might have metal in your body if you have a shrapnel or bullet injury, or if you are a welder;
  • Have metal or electronic devices in your body, such as a cardiac pacemaker or a metal artificial joint.

Some types of metal implants or orthopedic hardware are magnetic and not compatible with an MRI, especially older types. If you are unsure about having metal fragments in your body (war shrapnel or metal working injuries), you may need an X-ray prior to your MRI. The following list are examples of items that are not compatible with MRI scans, particularly metal implants or fragments containing iron. (Note: not all of these items are definite contraindications for getting an MRI. Talk to your doctor about your individual circumstance before the test.)

  • Artificial (prosthetic) metal heart valves
  • Artificial joints
  • Brain aneurysm clips
  • Drug pump implants
  • Implantable cardioverter-defibrillators
  • IUDs – intrauterine device
  • Medication patches that contain metal foil (transdermal patches)
  • Metallic fragments in or near the eyes or blood vessels
  • Nerve stimulators
  • Pacemakers
  • Surgical clips or staples

Unless otherwise instructed, there is no special preparation for the test. Depending on which part of your body is being scanned, you may need to wear a hospital gown during the procedure. For your convenience, we suggest you wear clothing that do not contain metal (ie. jeans, belts) and to leave the accessories as home, as patients will be asked to remove all jewelry and other metallic objects. For women, it is important to know that a metal bracket in your bra is not allowed during the MRI examination. A sports bra without closure is a possible alternative. Other items to avoid bringing with you are hairpins or hair accessories, eyeglasses, belts, and belt buckles.

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