Magnetic Resonance Imaging - MRI

MRI Scanner
MRI Scanner
MRI Scanner
MRI Scanner

Magnetic Resonance Imaging  (MRI)  is an imaging technique that uses powerful magnets, radio waves and a computer to capture detailed pictures of the inside of your body. MRI helps doctors diagnose a disease or injury and it can monitor how well you are doing with treatment. MRI exams can be done on different parts of your body. It is especially useful for looking at soft tissues and the nervous system. Unlike X-rays, which use ionizing radiation, MRI uses a non-ionizing approach to image the anatomy within the body. The type of non-ionizing energy is called radio-frequency (RF) waves. Unlike X-rays, RF waves do not break strands of DNA. This is one reason why MRI is a safer alternative as opposed to X-rays, and is a modality of choice for pregnant and pediatric patients.

Enhancing our communities' care with the latest and greatest in technological services. Carson Tahoe Health is excited to introduce our new MRI scanner, Philips Ambition, at the Eagle Medical Center. This new state-of-the-art technology is bigger, faster, and much more calming than its predecessor. It has a wide opening, so it’s much less confining than older MR systems and more comfortable for a wider range of patients. Patients can choose the environment that immerses them with positive distractions during their exam to help reduce anxiety and improve the quality of the exam.

How long is my MRI exam?

The length of your exam will depend on what is ordered by your doctor, or the body part of interest. In general, exams will take anywhere from 20 - 60 minutes, but can take up to 2 hours for specialty exams.

Why does the MRI make so much noise?

The magnet does make a slight rapping sound as images are being taken. Your MRI technologist will provide you with hearing protection, but you can still hear the technologist if he or she speaks to you during the exam.

Can I bring my belongings with me into the MRI room?

No, the MRI scanner is an oversized and extremely powerful magnet. If a metal object is brought into the room, it will be attracted to the strong magnetic field and become a projectile. You will be asked to leave your belongings in a safe space and to change into a hospital-approved gown for your examination to avoid such incidents.

Who will perform my MRI exam?

A certified and licensed MRI technologist will be helping you. In addition, our technologists are trained to start IV catheters, perform CPR, and are required to have ongoing continuing education to keep their skills sharp.

Who will read my MRI scan?

Your MRI exam will be read by a board-certified radiologist with extensive training.

Why do I need a contrast injection?

MRI Contrast is different from a CAT scan (iodine) contrast. The use of contrast in MRI may make certain tissues, abnormalities, or disease processes more visible on the MRI scan. For all exams, images will first be acquired without the contrast injection. After several images are taken, the MRI technologist will enter the room to administer the contrast intravenously. The contrast is not given prior to the beginning of the exam so the radiologist has images before and after the contrast is administered ... which leads to a better overall picture of what's going on within your body.

Can I eat and drink prior to my MRI exam?

You may eat, drink, and take your medications as usual for most MRI exams, with the exception of some body and contrast exams. For contrast studies, you will be asked to fast for 4 - 6 hours prior to your exam. For more detailed information regarding the prep of your exam, please call the scheduling department at (775) 445-5500.

Can I have a copy of my images to take home with me?

Yes, you can. We will have you sign a release form prior to giving you a copy and it can take about 24 hours for the written report to be ready.

Patient Comfort Information

We will make sure you are as comfortable as possible for your exam, our technologist will explain the entire procedure in depth. In most situations, we may provide you with a leg cushion that provides back support, a blanket, and in most cases music of your choice during the exam. The scanner also has proper ventilation and lighting that may help you feel more comfortable. The technologist will always maintain visual contact with you. Even though the door between the MRI scanner and MRI technologist workstation must be closed. Each MRI room has a large glass window that allows the MRI technologist to always maintain visual contact. Our technologist will give you a “call ball” to hold for the duration of your exam. The “call ball” will allow you to have constant communication with the MRI technologist. If the ball is squeezed, it will alert the technologist that you want to stop the exam for a moment and come out of the scanner. This will allow you to discuss some concerns you have with your technologist; such as deciding whether or not you want to complete the exam.
If you are having second thoughts about the exam, the technologist will discuss with you some of your alternative options as conscious sedation or anesthesia.

Please ask questions. Be sure to ask your MRI technologist the questions you might have about your exam. Informing yourself of your MRI exam will hopefully offer more ease of mind since you will be aware of the entire procedure.