MRI Imaging: What To Expect

If you are suffering from chronic pain or have been injured, you will likely be recommended to get MRI imaging done. Many patients don’t know what to expect and feel anxious prior to their scans. At Premier Neurosurgical Institute, we want you to feel as comfortable as possible and that begins with educating patients on what to expect upon arrival for their MRI visit. The following are a few things to know before your visit to help make it the easiest, most anxiety free experience for you:

What is a MRI?

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) technology allows for pictures of organs and structures within the body to be tested using a magnetic field and pulses of radio wave energy. This can sound scary – I know! But this specific type of imaging helps provide different information than what is typically seen on x-rays, ultrasounds or CT scans. Most importantly, there are no harmful effects or pain from the strong magnetic field used for the imaging. MRI machines come in different strengths (or Teslas) and it is important to have a high strength closed field MRI to capture the best images possible for proper diagnosis. At Premier Neurosurgical Institute, we have the 1.5Tesla magnet which allows for a faster scan time. We have the ability to scan soft tissues as well as vascular studies of the brain, head, neck, spine, and peripheral limbs.


MRI machine

1.5 Tesla MRI Machine

What should you expect before the test?

There are a few things to know before coming into your visit. No metal of any kind can enter the room of the magnet. If you have any sort of medical device in or on your body, it is imperative that the MRI Technician or PA is made aware. Piercings, hairbands, and jewelry of all kinds will need to be removed. Perhaps leaving them at home will make things easier for you! Women may wear yoga pants, undergarments without any metal or underwires to help feel more comfortable.


Okay, you’re ready to go! Now, what?

During the test, you usually lay on your back on a table extended from the MRI scanner. The machine itself is neither dark nor it is completely enclosed- so don’t worry about feeling trapped! It is open on both ends and fully lit. While inside the scanner, you will hear a fan and feel air moving. Tapping-like noises are made when the pictures are being taken but headphones can be used to block out the noises. You can communicate with the MRI technician at any time during the imaging process. You can hear them and more importantly, they can hear you! If you are feeling uncomfortable or have any concerns they are right there to help!

Great MRI techs, like those found at Premier Neurosurgical Institute with over 35 years of combined experience, help patient’s anxiety tremendously by communicating and coaching patients during the process. (i.e.: They will communicate the amount of time for each scan with you, to help you know what to expect) Many patients get so comfortable that they even fall asleep during the (on average 30 min – 1 hour) scan!


What if you’re claustrophobic or think you may be?

If you are claustrophobic can still get MRI imaging. It is important to consult with your physician prior to your visit and make driving arrangements prior to your visit. A sedative prescription can be written beforehand for you to bring with you to your visit to help you relax. (Note: Premier Neurosurgical does NOT have sedatives on site for patients who struggle with MRI imaging. Remember to consult with the PA or doctor before your MRI visit!)

Ultimately, a MRI is nothing more than laying down to take a picture of your body- with the potential of getting a nice nap in. While getting a MRI may be intimidating, try to transition the fearful thoughts of the unknown towards those of ease.  Knowing you are in good hands and one image closer to finding help and treatment options is one scan away.