How does an MRI work?

Posted May 10, 2011 | Posted in Miscellaneous


You may have heard the term “MRI,” but you may not know what it means. Those letters stand for Magnetic Resonance Imaging, and it’s a test that is the most effective way to get a look inside the human body without surgery. Through the use of a magnetic field and radio energy, MRIs make images of the body’s organs and other areas. Here’s basic information about MRIs:

  • MRIs diagnose tumors, bleeding, injuries and infections, and scans can be made of any area of the body: head, chest, blood vessels, spine, bones and the abdomen.
  • The MRI machine does all the work, so the patient does little to no preparation. Patients change into a gown and remove all jewelry and metallic objects (the machine includes a powerful magnet).
  • Standard MRI machines are a long tube. Patients lay down on the table, and depending on where the image needs to be taken, a technician slides a coil to that specific area of the body. The patient then slides back into the circular tube area of the machine for the test.
  • There is no pain associated with an MRI. The exam is noninvasive, and patients don’t feel anything. However, there is a loud tapping noise as the magnets are turned on and off throughout the exam (which a pair of earplugs can handle). Patients who are claustrophobic may need medicine to help them relax during the test.
  • The exam takes between 30 and 45 minutes.

When a physician requests an MRI be performed, you may be unnerved. But understanding how the procedure works is key to putting your mind to rest. Johnson Health offers advanced imaging services at locations in Smithfield and Clayton. Let us assist you as pinpoint the root of your injury so you can begin the healing process.


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