Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
Magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, uses radio frequency pulses and a strong magnetic field to make pictures of organs and structures inside the body.
This imaging technique allows physicians to evaluate bodily structures that may not be as visible with other diagnostic imaging methods.
Breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses magnetic fields to create an image of the breast. It is more invasive than mammography because a contrast agent is given through an IV before the procedure. At this time, breast MRI is mostly used in breast cancer diagnosis and staging. It is also used in breast cancer screening for women at higher risk. Learn more about breast MRI. MRI is a valuable tool for the diagnosis of a broad range of conditions, including cancer, stroke, and joint and musculoskeletal disorders.
At Brookwood Diagnostic Center, our MRI exams use a 1.5 short bore MRI machine—the most advanced MRI machine available. This system offers patients much more room than traditional MRI machines, helping to alleviate the “closed in” feeling that some patients experience.
Make an appointment
Call us at 205-802-6900 to schedule an appointment for an MRI.
What are some common uses of MRI?
Common uses of MRI include:
- Musculoskeletal: MRI is extremely accurate for evaluating a patient’s bones and joints; for arthritis, bone tumors, and cartilage problems; and for torn tendons, ligaments and other connective tissue that forms the musculoskeletal system. MRI can also tell if a bone is broken when not clear on an X-ray.
- Head: MRI can look at the brain for tumors, nerve injury, bleeding in brain, and other problems, such as damage caused by a stroke. We can also look at small structures within the ears for acoustic neuromas and the eyes for optic nerve damage. MRI studies can be performed to examine the vascular structures of the brain. With our advanced software capabilities we can rotate the images 360 degrees, to highlight any vein or artery.
- Chest and abdomen: MRI can find problems within the organs, such as the liver, kidneys, lungs, pancreas, gallbladder, and chest wall muscles. With the new technology of MRI, breath hold sequences can be done with just an eight-second breath hold. An MRI of the chest can also look at the breast tissue in high detail to look for breast cancer.
- Pelvis: Since MRI does not involve any radiation exposure, it is often used for examination of the male and female reproductive systems. MRI is a useful tool to find tumors, bleeding, and infections, and to obtain high-resolution images of the ovaries and uterus and prostate.
- Spine: MRI is widely used to check the discs and nerves in the spine. Many conditions can be seen including spinal stenosis, disc bulges, and spinal tumors. With high-resolution scans the radiologist can see the nerve roots and lining of the spinal canal.
What should I expect during this exam?
MRIs provide clear and detailed diagnostic images of internal body organs and tissues.
MRI exams usually take 30 to 45 minutes, depending on how many images are needed. Very detailed studies may take longer.
Your MRI exam at Brookwood Diagnostic Center will follow these steps:
- You will be asked to lie down on a sliding table. Once you are positioned comfortably, the technologist will slide the table into the MRI machine. The body part being imaged with be positioned in the center of the magnet.
- Depending on the focus on your MRI, a contrast material may be required to enhance the visibility of certain tissues or blood vessels. If your exam requires a contrast material, your technologist will inject the material into a vein in your arm or hand using a small needle.
- The technologist will leave the room for your exam but will communicate with you throughout the process using an intercom. You will also being given the option to listen to music through earphones during your exam.
- In certain circumstances, a friend or family member will be allowed to stay in the room with you during the exam.
- During each imaging sequence, which last between 2 and 5 minutes, you will be asked to remain still to ensure the clearest images possible. However, slight movement is allowed between imaging sequences.
What will I experience during an MRI?
MRI is a completely painless procedure. During each imaging sequence, it is normal to feel warmth in the area of your body being examined. If a contrast material is used, you may experience discomfort or a cool sensation at the injection site.
During the exam, you will hear loud tapping or thumping noises within the machine. Many patients choose to listen to music or wear earplugs to block out the noise. Music will be offered to every patient and can be listened to through earphones during the procedure.
Some patients experience a “closed in” feeling during the imaging sequences, because traditional MRI machines are designed like long tubes. Our new short-bore design will help alleviate this feeling. If you are prone to claustrophobia and feel you still might need a sedative, please ask your physician for a sedative prior to your exam.
How should I prepare for an MRI exam?
There are no food or drink restrictions leading up to an MRI exam. If your exam will include a contrast material, it’s important to be well hydrated leading up to your appointment. If you are over 60 years of age or have kidney problems, current lab work will be required.
On the day of your MRI, please wear loose clothing without zippers or metallic parts.
- Nylon tights
- Credit cards
- Phone cards
- Other metallic objects
MRI is a non-invasive exam. As MRI works with a strong magnet and radio wave, you need to tell us, if any of the following applies to you or the person that accompanies you into the exam room:
- Aneurysm clip(s)
- Cardiac pacemaker
- Implanted cardiverter defibrillator (ICD)
- Electronic implant or device
- Magnetically-activated implant or device
- Neurostimulatation system
- Spinal cord stimulator
- Cochlear implant or implanted hearing device
- Insulin or infusion pump
- Implanted drug infusion device
- Any type of prosthesis or implant
- Any external or internal metallic object
- Hearing aid
Any metallic substance on your person can affect the quality of the diagnostic images. It can also cause discomfort or even injury to you when placed into the magnetic field.
Learn more about preparing for your visit.