What it is

An MRI is a method of obtaining detailed pictures of internal body structures which uses magnetic fields and radio frequency pulses. MRIs are noninvasive, usually painless, and help physicians diagnose and treat medical problems. Connecting the machine to a computer produces detailed pictures of organs, soft tissues, bone, and virtually all other internal body structures. MRIs are very accurate at detecting abnormalities, and can reduce the need for invasive exploratory surgeries, biopsies, and other high-risk procedures. The appeal of MRIs is their level of accuracy combined with a lack of risk to the patient.

What to expect

There isn’t a great deal of preparation that needs to take place before an MRI. Try to avoid wearing clothing with metallic elements, but if it’s unavoidable you’ll be provided scrubs or a gown. If there are dietary rules that correspond with your specific MRI, you’ll be notified ahead of time. In the event that the physician ordered a contrast MRI, you may need an IV. The MRI itself will take just under an hour, typically, and it’s very important that you stay as still as possible during the procedure. A holding of breath may be requested, depending on the area. Overall, this procedure is noninvasive.