Patient Resources

I’m Scheduled for an MRI. Now What?

As part of our Patient Advocacy Program, MedRisk is committed to informing injured workers on what they can expect when they’re scheduled for workers’ comp-related tests and procedures.

This post is designed to help patients prepare for an MRI (short for magnetic resonance imaging). It should not be considered medical advice; if you have specific questions, you should contact your physician or case manager.

What is it?

MRIs use magnetic fields and radio waves to capture images. They are most often used to examine soft tissue areas such as joints, tendons, muscles, the abdomen and chest. Sometimes an MRI “with contrast” is prescribed; in these cases, dye is injected to help highlight certain areas.

What to expect

Pre-exam questions

  • Because MRI machines use magnetic fields and radio waves, you’ll be asked a number of questions in advance of your exam. It is important for the radiologist and the technician to know if you have any allergies, medical implants or metal fragments in your body.

What to wear

  • Wear loose fitting cotton clothing without any metal zippers, hooks or buttons.
  • Leave your jewelry (rings, watches, earrings, etc.) at home. You’ll be asked to remove it for the exam.
  • If you want a friend, spouse or family member with you during the exam, they should also avoid wearing jewelry and clothing with metal zippers, hooks or buttons.

About the exam

  • The traditional closed MRI unit is tubular with an opening on both ends.
  • During the exam, you will hear loud banging noises.
  • There is an intercom system for communication with your technician.
  • On average you can expect 45-60 minutes per body part.
  • If your doctor prescribed an MRI “with contrast,” your nurse or technician will inject the dye after a preliminary scan with no contrast, then scan you again.

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