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Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)


This examination, called a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan, uses a magnetic field and low energy radio waves to produce a series of pictures of your head, spine, or other parts of your body. It does not use any X-rays, radioactive materials or any form of ionizing radiation. To the best of our knowledge, it produces no harmful side effects or unpleasant sensations. Depending on what information your doctor needs, the MRI scan may require the use of a drug given intravenously to assist in visualization of certain structures in your body. It will be administered by a technologist trained in its use.


The presence of any metallic objects either on your person or clothing or in your body may interfere with the scan. Before the scan is done, you will be asked to remove all jewelry, watches, hairpins, glasses, wallets and the like, and change into a hospital gown. Important: If you have undergone surgery for which internal metal clips may have been left in place, please tell the technologist about this before getting on the scanning table. Also, tell the technologist if you have a cardiac pacemaker. These may make it impossible to do the scan.

Test Procedure

After you have changed into a hospital gown and removed all metal objects, the technologist will position you on a special table. Your head will be placed in a padded plastic cradle or on a pillow, and the table will then slide into the scanner. It will seem as though you are being rolled into a long tunnel. You will be able to communicate with the technologist during the scan.

Outside the scanner tunnel surrounding your head and body, there is a large magnet with a radio transmitter and receiver. Information from these instruments is accumulated and fed into a computer. The computer then produces a series of pictures of your body which are helpful in identifying a wide range of disease states.

While the machine is taking your pictures, you will hear rapidly repeating, loud thumping noises coming from the walls of the scanner; therefore earplugs will be provided. Any movement, especially of your head or back during this time will seriously blur the pictures. During the scanning, you should breathe quietly and normally but otherwise refrain from any movement, coughing or wiggling. When the thumping noise stops, the pictures will be processing and you may relax for a few minutes, but you must refrain from changing your position or moving about. This whole procedure will usually be repeated several times, and the entire exam ordinarily takes between 15 and 60 minutes to complete.

Test Results

The radiologist will study your examination and give his or her impression and report to your doctor. Then your doctor will discuss the results with you and explain what they mean in relation to your health. Imaging Services' staff cannot give results directly to the patient or family.

For More Information


Please call the Elkhart General Hospital Radiology Department at 574-523-7872.