Parkinson's Disease and MRI

Medically Reviewed by Christopher Melinosky, MD on June 05, 2021

MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging, is a test that produces very clear pictures, or images, of the human body without the use of X-rays. Instead, MRI uses a large magnet, radio waves, and a computer to produce these images.

Is an MRI Exam Safe for Parkinson's Disease?

Yes. The MRI exam poses no risk to the average person if appropriate safety guidelines are followed. But, if you have a deep brain stimulator to treat your Parkinson's disease, talk to your doctor before having an MRI since the stimulator(s) may need to be turned off. It should be evaluated and turned on again after the MRI.

Some conditions may make an MRI exam inadvisable. Others mean that precautions need to be taken. Tell your doctor if you have any of the following conditions:

  • Heart pacemaker
  • Cerebral aneurysm clip (metal clip on a blood vessel in the brain)
  • Implanted insulin pump (for treatment of diabetes), narcotics pump (for pain medication), or implanted nerve stimulators ("TENS") for back pain
  • Metal in the eye or eye socket
  • Cochlear (ear) implant for hearing impairment
  • Implanted spine stabilization rods
  • Severe lung disease (such as tracheomalacia or bronchopulmonary dysplasia)
  • Gastroesophageal reflux
  • Weigh more than 300 pounds
  • Not able to lie on back for 30 to 60 minutes
  • Claustrophobia (fear of closed or narrow spaces)

How Long Does the MRI Exam Take?

Allow 1 1/2 hours for your MRI exam. In most cases, the procedure takes 45 to 60 minutes, during which several dozen images may be obtained.

What Should I Expect Before a MRI?

Personal items such as your watch, wallet, including any credit cards with magnetic strips (they will be erased by the magnet), and jewelry should be left at home if possible, or removed prior to the MRI scan. Secured lockers are available to store personal possessions.

What Should I Expect During the MRI?

As the MRI scan begins, you will hear the equipment making a variety of banging, clanging and muffled thumping sound that will last for several minutes. None of them are anything other than annoying. Other than the sound, you should experience no unusual sensations during the scanning.

Certain MRI exams require an injection of a contrast material. This helps identify certain anatomic structures on the scan images.

Please feel free to ask questions. Tell the technologist or the doctor if you have any concerns.

What Should I Expect After the MRI?

  • Your doctor will discuss the test results with you.
  • Generally, you can resume your usual activities and normal diet immediately.

Show Sources


Planetta, P. Neurodegenerative Disease Management, February 2011.

University of Maryland Medical Center: "Diagnosing Parkinson's Disease."

Medicinenet: "Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI Scan)."

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