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MRI Services

MRI Services are available at:

Magnetic resonance imaging, usually known as an MRI exam, can produce a very detailed image of all parts of the body. It is noninvasive and uses no radiation. The procedure is painless and has no side effects. 

How MRI Works 

Unlike an X-ray image, which reveals bones and other solid objects, magnetic resonance uses a powerful magnetic field, radio frequency pulses and a computer to create virtual "slices" of of your body, revealing the muscles, fat, internal organs and soft tissue in each slice. A computer translates the magnetic radio waves into pictures that are read by BJC radiologists with specialized training in specific areas of the body. 

The MRI machine uses a powerful magnetic field, so the test is not appropriate for those who have had brain, ear or eye surgeries; women who are pregnant; or people who have:

  • Pacemakers
  • Cochlear implants
  • Metal pins, surgical staples, screws or plates
  • Foreign metal object in the eye
  • Neurostimulator
  • Aneurysm clips or stents
  • Implanted drug infusion device
  • Intrauterine devices (IUDs)
  • Shrapnel or bullet wounds

Clothing and Accessories 
Metal and electronic items such as zippers, jewelry, watches, hearing aids, pens and belt buckles are not allowed in any MRI room because they can interfere with the magnetic field. If possible, leave these items at home, or you will be given a place to store them during the procedure. 

Depending upon the procedure, you may be asked to change into a hospital gown, or you might be able to wear your own clothing. The MRI procedure requires that you lie down on a table, so wear loose-fitting, comfortable clothes. Zipper-free athletic clothes (sweat pants, T-shirt or sweat shirt) can be good options. 

Before the Procedure 
You will complete a questionnaire asking safety questions.
Guidelines about eating and drinking before an MRI vary with the procedure. Unless you are told otherwise, eat and drink as you normally would and take any medication as usual.
Some MRI examinations require you to swallow contrast material or receive an injection of contrast into your bloodstream. You will be asked if you have allergies, asthma or serious health problems. Severe kidney disease might prevent you from having an MRI with contrast material. 

During the Procedure 
The traditional MRI machine looks like a large tube that is open on both ends with an examination table that moves into the opening. 

Some MRI units, such as large-bore MRIs, have wider openings. There is extra headroom inside the machine, which is helpful for larger patients or those who are claustrophobic. Some machines are wide enough to allow patients with bad backs to bend their knees. 

Depending upon the machine used, a device called a coil may be placed over or wrapped around the area to be scanned. You will then be positioned under the magnet. 

If a contrast material is used in the exam, a nurse or technologist will insert an intravenous line into a vein in your hand or arm, or give it to you to drink. If administered intravenously, you might feel a warm sensation for a few seconds. 

A technologist will assist you on the screening table and make sure you are comfortable. Once the exam begins, you will be asked to remain still until it is finished. The technologist will leave for an adjoining room, but will watch you through a glass window and remain in contact through an intercom. You will be given a call button to summon the technologist at any time. 

While the MRI scanner is running, it produces a loud thumping and humming. You can bring a CD to listen to through ear buds, or you can request ear plugs. 

MRI exams often include multiple runs, some of which may last several minutes. The entire examination is usually completed within 45 minutes, or 25 minutes with an open-bore MRI. 

If You Have Claustrophobia 
If you have claustrophobia (fear of enclosed spaces) or anxiety, consider asking your physician to prescribe a mild sedative. Some machines, such as the open MRI and open-bore MRI, are more suitable for people with claustrophobia. 

After Your Exam 
A radiologist, who specializes in specific areas of the body, will read your images. Your physician will receive a full report within 24 to 48 hours, and will contact you with your results. A DVD of your images for your own personal record is available upon request. 

About Your Bill 
You will receive two bills for your exam:
The hospital bill includes the cost to cover equipment, supplies and technical personnel
The radiologist’s bill covers the professional reading of your exam

MRI Exams for Children 
Dress your child in comfortable clothing without metal parts, such as zippers or snaps. Bring along a favorite soft toy or blanket to provide some reassurance. 

It can be difficult for children to keep still when they are not feeling well, but movement during an MRI exam will lower image quality and can cause the exam to take longer. This can lead to even more stress for kids. Because a successful MRI requires the patient to remain completely still during the exam, some children under 6 might need to be sedated. Reassure your child that sedation is like taking a short nap. An IV needle is inserted in the child's arm in preparation for sedation, but this is usually the worst part of the experience for the child. To help the sedation have full effect, keep your child awake as long as possible prior to the exam. If sedated, your child might remain for observation for up to two hours after the exam. 

The 3T, or 3 Tesla, MRI identifies the strength of the magnet used in the imaging process. Because most MRI equipment has 1.5T strength, the 3T magnet offers twice the power and better quality images for radiologists and doctors. For patients, the scanner is faster and quieter. 

The higher resolution makes the 3T MRI ideal for imaging the entire body. It captures physiologic and metabolic processes, and provides more detailed imaging for neurological disorders and cardiovascular disease. Its increased capabilities enable better differentiation between healthy and diseased tissue. It catches problems earlier because it allows physicians to see things more clearly and with a higher level of detail. 


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