Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Knee Pain Health Center

Font Size

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) of the Knee

Risks continued...

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

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

There is a slight chance of an allergic reaction if contrast material is used during the MRI. But most reactions are mild and can be treated using medicine. Contrast material that contains gadolinium may cause a serious problem (called nephrogenic systemic fibrosis) in people with kidney failure. If you have decreased kidney function or serious kidney disease, tell your doctor before having an MRI scan.

There also is a slight risk of an infection at the IV site if contrast material was used.


Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a test done with a large machine that uses a magnetic field and pulses of radio wave energy to make pictures of the knee camera.gif.

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

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the knee

The ligaments, meniscus camera.gif, tendons, bones, and joints look normal in size, shape, and location.

No growths, such as tumors, are present.

No broken bones (fractures), extra fluid, or loose bodies are present.

No signs of inflammation or infection in bones, joints, or soft tissues are present.


Bones show an injury or a fracture. The MRI also may show a collection of fluid, which could mean an infection is present.

Ligament or meniscus tears are present.

Tendon tears are present. The MRI may also show a thickening, meaning surgery or a tear you had in the past or repeated stress.

Growths, such as tumors, are present.

Changes common to arthritis are present.

What Affects the Test

Reasons you may not be able to have the test or why the results may not be helpful include:

  • Metal devices in your leg from previous surgery. These may make the MRI pictures blurry and prevent your doctor from seeing what is wrong with your knee.
  • Pregnancy. An MRI test usually is not done during pregnancy.
  • Medical devices that use electronics, such as a pacemaker or medicine infusion pump. The MRI magnet may cause problems with these devices.
  • If you are not able to remain still during the test.
  • Obesity. A person who is very overweight may not fit into the opening of some standard MRI machines.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: September 09, 2014
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.

Today on WebMD

knee exercise
If you're living with knee pain, try these.
knee in brace
Everything you wanted to know about it.
nurse helping woman on crutches
When it comes to knee pain.
man with knee pain
Read this first.
man biting a bullet
6 Ways To Ruin Your Knees
Keep Joints Healthy
Knee exercises