Patient Q&A

Q: What’s an MRI?

A: MRIs or Magnetic Resonance Images let doctors see inside your body to identify a wide variety of possible medical conditions—all without exposure to X-rays. Instead, an MRI uses a powerful magnet, radio waves, and special coils to detect electrical signals from your body. A computer then processes this information to create detailed images our doctors can use to find out what’s wrong with you or a family member.

Q: Do MRIs hurt?

A: Imaging is painless and much quicker than you might think, especially with our new Philips Ingenia 3.0T. It has a wide opening, so it’s much less confining than older systems and a lot more comfortable for patients. Since it’s fast, you’ll be finished quickly, and it’s less likely your doctor will have to run any follow-up scans.

Q: Is there any risk?

A: MRIs use no harmful radiation and there are no known health side effects. MRI studies are very low-risk procedures for most patients.

Q: Can anyone get an MRI?

A: An MRI isn’t for everyone. Be sure to inform your physician if you have a pacemaker, aneurysm clips in the brain, a shunt with telesensor, inner ear implants, metal fragments in one or both eyes, implanted spinal cord stimulators, or if you’re pregnant or breast feeding.

Q: How do I prepare for an MRI exam?

A: For most MRI exams, no special preparation is needed. If any preparations are required, our schedulers will let you know at the time of booking. You will be asked to remove all metal (earrings, watches, bobby pins, etc.) and credit cards. You may be asked to wear a gown during the exam or wear loose-fitting clothing with no metal fasteners, zippers, or buttons. If you have any questions about preparations, please contact our Centralized Scheduling Team, 1-415-925-7301.

Q: How long will I be in the MRI?

A: The scan will take 20 minutes to one hour. Please allow additional time for registration.

Q: Does the scanner make a lot of noise?

A: The magnet makes a slight rapping sound as images are being taken. In between scans the machine is quiet. Your MRI Technologist will provide you with hearing protection, but you can still hear the technologist if he or she speaks to you during the exam.

Q: Will I have to hold still the whole time?

A: We’ll get the highest-quality results if you hold still during the exam. The technologist will guide you and let you know when you can move between scans.

Q: Will I be alone?

A: You’ll be in contact with one of our technologists at all times. Even when he or she is not in the MRI room, you will be able to talk to him or her by intercom. In some cases a family member is welcome to stay in the room with you during your scan.

Q: When will my Physician have the exam results?

A: In almost all cases, we will have the report available to your physician within 24–48 hours after completion of the exam.

Q: Can I obtain a copy of the exam results?

A: We will give you a copy of your scan on a CD to take with you. After the formal report is prepared, you may obtain a written copy by signing a written medical release.