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MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)

This scan lets doctors see inside your body without using radiation. Instead, MRIs use magnets and radio waves. An MRI shows clear views of your soft tissues. It can show cancer and other problems.

Overview

This scan lets doctors see inside your body without using radiation. Instead, MRIs use magnets and radio waves. An MRI shows clear views of your soft tissues. It can show cancer and other problems.

Preparation

Before you have an MRI, you have to remove your glasses, jewelry, hearing aids, dentures and other items. People who have certain types of medical implants can't have an MRI. You'll be asked about your medical history to make sure it's safe for you. You may be given a gown and hearing protection to wear. Medicine may be used to relax you. You may be given a special dye to drink, or given it through an IV needle or other method. The dye helps the scanner see things in your body more clearly.

The Scan

To begin your scan, you lie on a table that slides into the MRI machine. The machine is a big tube that's open on both ends. When it starts, you hear loud banging and humming noises. Those sounds are made by the magnet. There aren't any moving parts around your body. You must stay perfectly still so the machine can get a clear view. A scan usually takes 15 minutes to an hour. If you move during the scan, the images will be blurry and it may need to be redone. A technician in a room next to you will watch you and the images being taken. The technician will talk to you through a speaker to let you know what is happening during your scan.

Review

When your MRI is done, you can go home. Doctors will review the images and will talk to you about them at a followup appointment.

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