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Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

How It Feels

You will not have pain from the magnetic field or radio waves used for the MRI test. The table you lie on may feel hard, and the room may be cool. You may be tired or sore from lying in one position for a long time.

If a contrast material is used, you may feel some coolness and flushing as it is put into your IV.

In rare cases, you may feel:

  • A tingling feeling in the mouth if you have metal dental fillings.
  • Warmth in the area being examined. This is normal. Tell the technologist if you have nausea, vomiting, headache, dizziness, pain, burning, or breathing problems.

Risks

There are no known harmful effects from the strong magnetic field used for MRI. But the magnet is very powerful. The magnet may affect pacemakers, artificial limbs, and other medical devices that contain iron. The magnet will stop a watch that is close to the magnet. Any loose metal object has the risk of causing damage or injury if it gets pulled toward the strong magnet.

Metal parts in the eyes can damage the retina camera.gif. If you may have metal fragments in the eye, an X-ray of the eyes may be done before the MRI. If metal is found, the MRI will not be done.

Iron pigments in tattoos or tattooed eyeliner can cause skin or eye irritation.

An MRI can cause a burn with some medication patches. Be sure to tell your health professional if you are wearing a patch.

There is a slight risk of an allergic reaction if contrast material is used during the MRI. But most reactions are mild and can be treated using medicine. There also is a slight risk of an infection at the IV site.

Results

A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a test that uses a magnetic field and pulses of radio wave energy to make pictures of organs and structures inside the body.

The radiologist may discuss initial results of the MRI with you right after the test. Complete results are usually ready for your doctor in 1 to 2 days.

An MRI can sometimes find a problem in a tissue or organ even when the size and shape of the tissue or organ looks normal.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
Normal:

The organs, blood vessels, bones, and joints are normal in size, shape, appearance, and location.

No abnormal growths, such as tumors, are present.

No bleeding, abnormal fluid, blockage in the flow of blood, or bulges in the blood vessels (aneurysms) are present.

No signs of inflammation or infection are present.

Abnormal:

An organ is too large, too small, damaged, or absent.

Abnormal growths (such as tumors) are present.

Abnormal fluid from a cause such as bleeding or an infection is present. Fluid is found around the lungs or heart. Fluid is found around the liver, bowel, or other organ in the abdomen.

A blood vessel is narrowed or blocked. An aneurysm is present.

Blockage in the gallbladder bile ducts or in the tubes (ureters) that lead out of the kidneys is present.

Damage to joints, ligaments, or cartilage camera.gif is seen. Bones are broken or show infection or disease.

Problems of the nervous system are present, such as multiple sclerosis (MS), dementia, Alzheimer's disease, or herniated disc camera.gif.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: May 16, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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