An MR scan is a way of making pictures of the human body using magnetic fields and radio waves. It is painless and generally very safe. MR scans are very good for looking at the brain, spine, joints and abdomen/pelvis areas.
Most MR exams require no specific preparation other than the MR Safety Screen which will be complete just before the exam by the technologist. It is a good idea to leave all unnecessary metallic objects, jewelry, watches, pocket knives, hair pins, body piercings, coins, cigarrette lighters or any other metallic objects at home. Please do not wear metallic eyeshadow the day of your exam. If you have an implanted medical device and have been given a card or document which states that it is safe, or has contact information for the company that made the device, please bring that with you on the day of your exam. If a patient is mentally challenged or has difficulty communicating, it is always good to have a family member or caretaker with the patient who is familiar with their medical and surgical history for purposes of the MR Safety Screen which must be completed before the exam can be performed.
The exam requires that the patient be placed inside a large magnet. The patient is usually placed on a sliding table and positioned within some “coils” which record the images. The type of coil depends on the type of exam being done. The coils are plastic covered receivers made of copper wire that “listen” for the images that come from the patient’s body. The coils are positioned as close as possible to the part of the body being examined. The patient is then passed into the center of the magnet using the sliding table. This is similar to the positioning for a CT scan. MR uses no dangerous or “ionizing” radiation and is safe, even for pregnant mothers. However, the exam takes place in a room with a very powerful magnet, and this may not be safe for patients with cardiac pacemakers, aneurysm clips in their heads, or certain other implanted devices.