What is MRI?

Magnetic Resonance Imaging uses friendly magnetic fields to produce an unparalleled view inside the human body. MRI has become the diagnostic imaging modality of choice for most malignancies and neurological diseases of the brain and spine including:

  • Brain tumors
  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Cervical cancer

The technology’s ability to generate, non-invasively, superb anatomical details of both bone and soft tissues has made MRI the preferred modality for most orthopedic applications including imaging of:

  • Knee, hip, shoulder, wrist, elbow
  • Ligaments and tendons
  • Back pain and failed back syndrome

Do I need a Prescription for an MRI?

You will need a prescription for an MRI. If you have reason to believe that an MRI would be beneficial in diagnosing your physical condition more accurately, discuss it with your doctor. Feel free to have your physician call Oakland MRI to talk about your case. If your physician agrees that an MRI exam would be beneficial, he or she can refer you to Oakland MRI for a scan. You may download our Prescription Form for your convenience.

How do I prepare for my MRI exam?

Good news – no special preparation is needed. Eat and take any prescribed medication as usual, unless your doctor tells you otherwise.

One important thing to remember, though: MRI and metal do not mix.

An MRI system has a powerful magnet inside, which is why you need to follow these guidelines:

Tell your physician and the MRI staff if you have a pacemaker, prosthesis, surgical clips, metal implants, or any other metal objects in your body. Some implants, such as a pacemaker, may be affected by an MRI exam.
Leave metal or magnetized objects at home or give them to the MRI staff for safekeeping when you arrive for the exam. Items that might be affected by the magnet include watches, coins, keys, bobby pins or other hair clips, pocketknives, and credit cards.

Avoid wearing eye makeup because metal flakes or slivers are found in some eye shadows.
Let the technologist know if you work around metal finishing or grinding equipment. It’s important to keep the eye area free of any metallic particles.

Finally, if you have additional questions or want more information before your exam, please don’t hesitate to contact your physician or the staff of the MRI facility.

What can I expect during my MRI exam?

The MRI exam itself is painless – you won’t feel a thing. You may notice a slight knocking noise as each image is taken, however, so let your technologist know if you are particularly sensitive to sound.

As with any exam, the hardest part is to be patient. Just relax and remain still. The MRI staff will keep you informed every step of the way. Remember, they are there to assist you. Should you become uncomfortable, need help, or have questions at any point during your exam, just say so. There is a built-in intercom in the system so you can talk with the staff.

The length of your exam depends on the type of study your doctor has ordered. In many cases, MRI patients are done and on their way home within an hour.

After your exam, the technologist will take you back to the preparation room to collect your things. That’s all there is to it.

How do I get an appointment?

Simply mail or fax a requisition form signed by a referring physician. Call the office to schedule an appointment. We will schedule your appointment for the earliest possible date at a time convenient for you.

Can I eat before the exam?

Usually there are no dietary restrictions before a MRI exam. However, if your physician has requested the use of a contrast agent for your MRI then it would be best not to eat two hours prior to your exam to minimize the already unlikely event of nausea.

What is a contrast agent, and will I need it?

Certain types of scans require the use of an injected contrast media. This contrast media, which is given intravenously before the exam, highlights certain body parts. If your physician orders this type of scan, our client services coordinator will explain the contrast agent to you and answer your questions. If contrast media is prescribed, please tell your physician:

  • If you are pregnant, think you might be; or are breast feeding
  • If you have anemia or any diseases that affect red blood cells
  • If you have asthma or other allergic respiratory disorders
  • If you have ever had an adverse reaction to contrast media.

What will happen when I get scanned?

Patients are often pleasantly surprised to discover that the MRI examination is one of the easiest and most comfortable medical exams they have experienced. Before the scan our trained MRI technologist will simply ask you lie down on a cushioned table, which will move into the magnet. After you have been comfortably positioned for the scans, all you have to do is relax and lie as still as you can. While the MRI test is being conducted, your MRI technologist will carefully monitor the operation of the exam from an adjacent room. You will be able to speak to the technician through the intercom system at all times during the exam. You will hear a knocking sound from the MRI system that ranges from barely audible to quite noticeable; this is normal.

Do I have to lie still when I have an MRI?

Yes. In order to achieve the best imaging results it is important to minimize movement. You should remain relaxed and as still as possible. Because a scanning session will often include a series of individual scans, you will probably be given the opportunity to find a more comfortable position between scans. If you find that you are uncomfortable in any way, the attending MRI technologist will help you find a position in which you can rest comfortably.

I’m very claustrophobic. What should I do?

Because our MRI has a larger bore than older equipment, allowing patients to see the examination room around them – the chances of you becoming claustrophobic while being scanned are minimal. If you have claustrophobic tendencies and you are concerned that this may otherwise prevent you from remaining still, please ask your physician to prescribe a sedative for you to take just prior to your exam.