Patients are placed in an MRI scanner, a large circular shaped magnet open at both ends to allow a steady flow of controlled fresh air. The length of the procedure varies, depending on the area being scanned; 30 minutes to an hour is common.

An MRI makes loud tapping noises during the procedure. We provide you with earplugs or headphones with music to minimize noise. Through an intercom, you can communicate with the MRI technologist, who closely monitors you throughout the procedure.

Movement interferes with the MRI, so you must remain still. We realize this can be difficult; we will make you as comfortable as possible. If you are claustrophobic, a mild sedative can help reduce anxiety during the exam; however, you must have someone to drive you home.

For some MRI studies, a contrast material called gadolinium may be injected into a vein to help enhance the images. Unlike contrast agents used with CT scans and X-Rays, this does not contain iodine and rarely causes allergic reactions or other problems.