MRI: What to Expect

Magnetic resonance imaging, commonly referred to as an MRI, is an advanced technology using magnetic fields and radio waves (like microwaves and the AM and FM bands on your radio) to visualize the inner workings of the body. The pictures produced by MRI help the radiologist clearly and accurately detect and define the differences between healthy and diseased tissues, especially in the soft tissues. It can reveal many health problems at their earliest, most treatable stages.

How to Prepare for Your MRI

  • Plan to arrive 15 minutes early to complete any necessary paperwork.
  • Be sure to bring your doctor's orders and your insurance card(s).
  • You may eat and drink normally prior to your exam and continue to take your regular medications.
  • You will be asked to change into a clinical gown, which we will provide. Please remove all metal objects from your body, including watches, jewelry, keys, wallets, cell phones, and pagers. Lockers are available to secure your belongings.
  • If you have dentures, you may be asked to remove them.
  • Please inform the office staff or technician if you are pregnant or think you may be pregnant.
  • Our MRI has easy access on all four sides and provides a comfortable, nonconfining environment. However, if you have concerns about feeling claustrophobic, please consult with your doctor before your MRI exam.
  • During your exam, you will be wearing earplugs or headphones to protect your ears from the MRI machine making frequent loud noises. You may bring a favorite CD to listen to while your scan is being performed.
  • Following your exam, a radiologist will read your images and will report the results to your doctor.

The Examination

During your MRI examination, you will simply lie still on the MRI table. Each individual study takes approximately 45 minutes to an hour to complete. As the examination progresses, the equipment will be obtaining views of your body from a variety of angles. Throughout the process, you will hear a muffled sound somewhat like a drumbeat. The table itself may move, but you will remain still. You will be able to talk to our technologist at any time during the procedure via an intercom system.


Depending on your needs, your doctor may have ordered a “contrast examination” for you. If so, you will be provided an injection of a contrast medium, a clear, nonradioactive liquid that will provide enhanced pictures of an affected area. Of course, a doctor is onsite whenever contrast injections are administered, even though reactions to this type of contrast are extremely rare. For some joint scans, you may be required to have contrast injected into your joint at the hospital under X-ray by the radiologist prior to your scan.

Your MRI Examination Results

Your examination will produce a unique set of images that our radiologists will review and interpret. They will then produce a report of their findings and advance that promptly to the doctor who referred you for your examination within 72 hours.

After Your MRI Examination

After your MRI examination, you are free to immediately return to your normal activities. MRI examinations and the contrast medium that is sometimes used are not known to cause post examination reactions or complications. Therefore, if you experience any unusual pain or problems of any kind, immediately call your referring physician. If your problems are severe, contact 911 for emergency care. If you did have a contrast injection during your examination, you should drink plenty of fluids during the 24 hours following your examination. This helps the contrast solution pass completely through your system.

If you are breastfeeding, you should avoid doing so for 24-36 hours; a pump might be used during this time.


To schedule an MRI or if you have any questions regarding our MRI services, including requesting copies of your report, please call us at (847) 285-4200.

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