Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a noninvasive medical test that helps doctors at NYU Langone’s imaging services diagnose and treat certain medical conditions. MRI uses a powerful magnetic field, radio frequency pulses, and a computer to produce detailed pictures of organs, soft tissues, bone, and other internal structures of the body. X-rays are not used as part of this technology.
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If your doctor has ordered an imaging exam through your NYU Langone Health MyChart account, you can schedule most imaging exams using the NYU Langone Health app.Learn More
Images can be displayed and examined on a computer monitor, transmitted electronically, printed, or copied to a CD. Radiologists at NYU Langone review and interpret your MRI results to diagnose a variety of different diseases, including abdominal, cardiac, musculoskeletal, neurological, and spine-related conditions.
NYU Langone MRI scanners have short bore technology, which makes for a more comfortable scanning experience. Short bore means that the length of the tube you're in during the scan is shorter than usual. Your head and neck may be outside the tube, unless that is the area you are having scanned.
If you are claustrophobic, please discuss this with your doctor prior to your MRI appointment. If sedation is prescribed by your doctor, notify the front desk when you arrive that you are taking prescribed medication for your exam.
NYU Langone doctors use detailed MRI images to better evaluate various parts of the body in order to determine the presence of certain diseases that may not be adequately assessed with other imaging methods, such as X-rays, ultrasound, or CT scans.
However, MRI takes longer than a CT scan, and may not be ideal for all parts of the body. For example, air-filled structures, such as the lungs, are not well evaluated with MRI and may be better evaluated using CT.
Depending on what information your doctor needs, the MRI scan may require the use of a contrast agent given through a vein to assist doctors in seeing certain anatomical structures within your body.
Because MRI technology involves the use of a magnetic field, our schedulers need to ask if you have any metal implanted devices, as well as the make and model of those devices.
The reason for these questions is that certain implants may prevent you from having your exam for safety reasons. Asking as much information up front helps us make your experience at the time of the scan as efficient and as fast as possible.
Examples of problematic implants include:
Please tell the intake personnel and your technologist if you have a prosthetic device, such as a hip or knee replacement. In most cases, the presence of this type of replacement does not exclude you from having an imaging exam performed. This information is helpful, though, in terms of modifying the type of MRI study performed.
Patients should not wear any eye makeup or hairspray. Believe it or not, they contain metal and can cause problems in a MRI scanner.
Please bring any previous imaging study results, such as reports, films, or CD-ROMs, from tests that may include X-rays, MRI scans, and CT scans, if they are available.
On the day of your exam, bring your prescription, insurance card, and any related insurance forms or pre-approvals. We are able to play a variety of music during your MRI—if you have a preference, simply bring a CD or iPod.
Preparation for your MRI depends on the type of exam you are having. If you are having a cholangiogram, or a magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography, you need to fast for four hours prior to your exam. If you are having an MR-enterography exam, you are required to drink oral contrast.
If your doctor has ordered an MRI with contrast using gadolinium, and you have a history of diabetes, kidney problems, or high blood pressure, you must have your creatinine level checked prior to your MRI. The blood test must be taken within six weeks of your exam. If you have had or will be having a liver transplant, the bloodwork must be performed within one week of the exam.
When you schedule your appointment, our scheduling associate lets you know how early to arrive. Depending on the exam, it may be 30 to 60 minutes before your appointment. This allows you enough time to register and complete all necessary paperwork, forms, or questionnaires.
Please indicate any possibility of pregnancy to your physician and the scheduling office when you book the appointment. When you arrive, inform the MRI technologist as well.
Gowns are provided for your exam. We have private dressing rooms with lockers for your clothes and valuables, although we recommend that you leave your valuables at home.
Please remove all body piercings, jewelry, watches, eyeglasses, hairpins, wallets, and other metallic objects prior to your exam.
After you have removed all metal objects, our MRI technologist positions you on the table of the scanner. Your head is placed in a padded plastic cradle or on a pillow, and the table slides into the scanner. An intercom system allows you and the technologist to communicate with each other at all times.
In order to obtain clear pictures, you are asked to hold very still and to relax. You may be asked to hold your breath for up to 20 seconds. Any movement during the scan, especially of your head or back—even moving your jaw to talk—can blur and degrade the pictures.
The machine makes rapid, loud thumping noises as it takes images. During this time, you should breathe quietly and normally and refrain from moving, coughing, or wiggling. There are multiple series of image acquisitions, each with its own particular noises. When the thumping noise stops, you must be still and maintain your position in the scanner.
The entire exam typically takes between 30 and 60 minutes depending on exam type.
After your procedure, you are escorted back to the dressing room. You are typically able to leave and resume your regular diet and activities. Occasionally, a procedure requires that you stay to be monitored afterward. If you brought prior images for comparison, you can pick them up at the front desk when you leave.
Our specialized radiologists read the MRI images and dictate a report that is sent immediately to your referring physician, who contacts you with the results.
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