Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) provides a remarkable window to the body’s internal structures. It has become an invaluable diagnostic tool, replacing many invasive surgical procedures.
Unlike other techniques, MRI does not use radiation. It combines a powerful magnetic field, radio frequency pulses and a computer to generate highly detailed images of soft tissue structures near and around bones, blood vessels, organs and the brain.
How MRI Works
The human body is mostly water, which contains hydrogen. The MRI scanner’s magnetic field causes hydrogen protons to align and spin in the same direction. The machine then emits a radio frequency pulse. This pulse causes the protons to absorb energy and spin in a slightly different direction. As the protons gradually release this absorbed energy, the machine measures the energy and uses a computer to mathematically construct detailed images.
MRI gives us minutely thin, cross-sectional views or “slices” of anatomic structure, revealing even the most subtle differences in body tissues. It can be tailored to answer specific diagnostic questions.
Preparing for Your MRI
An MRI exam generally requires minimal preparation. For many MRI exams, you can eat, drink, and take your medications as normal.
However, some kinds of MRI exams require you to abstain from all eating and drinking for two to four hours beforehand. Ask your doctor’s office about any special preparations you may need.
If you have any questions, please check with your doctor’s office, or phone one of our imaging technologists at (541) 269-8090.
What to Expect
Because the MRI employs a powerful magnet, the presence of metal in your body may create a safety hazard. Before your MRI begins, tell the technologist if you have any metal or electronic devices in your body, such as an artificial heart valve, a metallic joint implant, a pacemaker, or shrapnel from an old wound.
You will be asked to change into a gown and to remove your watch, jewelry, dentures, eyeglasses, or other metal objects. Any metal in the room will react to the powerful magnet within the MRI machine.
For the same reason, do not take any credit, bank, parking or insurance cards into the scan room. The magnet will erase the information on their magnetic strips.
During the procedure, you will hear loud clicking or tapping noises. These noises are produced when coils inside the MRI magnet are rapidly switched on and off. You’ll be given earplugs to muffle these sounds.
Your MRI procedure typically will take between 15 and 30 minutes. Patients generally find the experience comfortable and non-stressful.
Afterward, one of our board-certified radiologists will analyze your scan and report results to your doctor. Your doctor will discuss the findings with you.
Technology and Professionalism
The key difference among MRI scanners is the strength of their magnets, measured in units called teslas. The stronger the tesla strength, the better the image and the faster the exam.
Our top-of-the-line Magnetom Skyra MRI system has a superior magnetic field strength of 3 tesla. Large and roomy, with a short bore, it offers better patient comfort. No long-tunnel scanners are in use at our hospital.
Our MRI technologists have college degrees in radiology sciences, with specialized training in magnetic resonance imaging, and an average of more than 10 years’ experience. They are licensed by the Oregon Board of Medical Imaging and certified through the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists. Their proven expertise assures you safe and accurate imaging.