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MRI

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General Information About MRI

Magnetic Resonance Imaging, or MRI, is a procedure that uses a magnet, radio waves, and a computer to create detailed internal images of the body for your doctor to see. MRI can assist physicians in detecting and diagnosing diseases or other abnormalities in very early stages.

The physicians and staff of St. Paul Radiology are pleased to provide you with answers to questions you may have about your upcoming exam. This information will help ensure a positive experience when you are a patient for MRI.

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Select Imaging Procedures


Brain MRI Without & With Contrast

MRI uses a powerful magnetic field, radio frequency pulses and a computer to produce detailed pictures of the brain. The images acquired are used to diagnose and detect normal, diseased, or injured brain and assist in determining how the brain is functioning, as well as for assessing the potential risks of surgery or other invasive treatments of the brain. This MRI examination will require the patient to receive an injection of contrast into the bloodstream. The contrast material used for an MRI exam, called gadolinium, does not contain iodine and is less likely to cause side effects or an allergic reaction.


MRI Lumbar Spine Without Contrast

This exam shows the anatomy of the vertebrae that make up the spine, as well as the disks, spinal cord and the spaces between the vertebrae through which nerves pass. In this procedure, only the lumbar (lower) portion of the spine will be imaged.


MRI of Joint Lower Extremity

This exam produce detailed pictures of the body's major joints to diagnose or evaluate degenerative joint disorders such as arthritis and meniscus tears (knee), joint abnormalities due to trauma, tumors involving joints, and pain, swelling or bleeding in the tissues in and around the joints.


MRI Cervical Spine Without Contrast

MRI uses a powerful magnetic field, radio frequency pulses and a computer to produce detailed pictures that show the anatomy of the vertebrae that make up the spine, as well as the disks, spinal cord and the spaces between the vertebrae through which nerves pass. In this procedure, only the cervical (neck) portion of the spine will be imaged.


Brain MRI Without Contrast

This exam produces detailed pictures of the brain. The images acquired are used to diagnose and detect normal, diseased, or injured brain and assist in determining how the brain is functioning, as well as for assessing the potential risks of surgery or other invasive treatments of the brain. This MRI examination does not require the patient to swallow contrast material or receive an injection of contrast into the bloodstream. The contrast material used for an MRI exam, called gadolinium, does not contain iodine and is less likely to cause side effects or an allergic reaction.


Breast MRI Without & With Contrast

This exam produces detailed pictures of both breasts. MRI of the breast is not a replacement for mammography or ultrasound imaging but rather a supplemental tool for detecting and staging breast cancer and other breast abnormalities.


MRI Angiography Without & With Contrast

In magnetic resonance angiography (MRA), a powerful magnetic field, radio waves and a computer produce detailed images and is used to examine blood vessels in the brain to identify the effects of a stroke, other disease and/or aneurysms. The brain MRA is also used for surgical planning and treatment.


MRI Joint Upper Extremity Without Contrast

MRI imaging uses a powerful magnetic field, radio frequency pulses and a computer to produce detailed pictures of the body's major joints to diagnose or evaluate degenerative joint disorders such as arthritis, joint abnormalities due to trauma, tumors involving joints, and pain, swelling or bleeding in the tissues in and around the joints.

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Download Procedure Preparation Information


Questions About MRI


Question: What is MRI?

Answer: Your physician has ordered a diagnostic procedure known as Magnetic Resonance Imaging, or MRI. MRI uses a magnetic field, radio waves and a computer to create extremely detailed images of the human body. Before your exam begins, an MRI technologist will ask you some medical questions, explain your procedure and assist you into the MRI room. You will be asked to lie on a padded table, which will move into the magnet opening, and your exam will begin.


Question: What information will I need to provide prior to my MRI examination?

Answer: You will be asked to complete a medical questionnaire that will assist the technologist in assuring that the highest quality exam is performed.

Please make sure your physician and the technologist performing your exam know if you have a pacemaker, prosthesis, aneurysm clips, metal implants or other metal objects in your body. If you know you have had metal in your eyes, please inform us, as you may require an additional study prior to your MRI.


Question: What should I wear to my appointment?

Answer: Our facilities will provide cloth gowns or robes for all patients scheduled for an MRI. Lockers are available to store your personal belongings.


Question: Is there any preparation on my part prior to my MRI?

Answer: Most MRI examinations require no preparation. However, for exams that do require preparation, information will be provided to you by your physician's office.


Question: What should I bring to my appointment?

Answer: Please bring your insurance card. Your insurance company will be billed for the procedure. You will receive a bill for any co-pay or non-covered expenses from St. Paul Radiology Outpatient Imaging.


Question: May I move during the examination?

Answer: It is important to remain as still as possible. Your technologist may ask you to hold your breath. If you have special needs, please let your technologist know.


Question: Is an MRI painful?

Answer: The procedure is painless. You will hear a knocking sound as each series of images is taken.


Question: How long will my examination last?

Answer: The length of your exam depends on the body part(s) your physician has ordered to be scanned, but most exams last approximately 30-45 minutes.


Question: What is the difference between MRI and Open MRI?

Answer: An MRI is a large cylinder that surrounds you and is open on both ends (as appears in photograph on cover). An Open MRI is open on the sides (as appears in photograph at left). Your physician will determine which type of MRI is most appropriate for you. St. Paul Radiology is proud to offer MRI and High Field Open MRI.


Question: How will I receive my MRI results?

Answer: A Board Certified Radiologist (a physician who specializes in interpreting diagnostic images) will study the images from your examination and send a report to your physician.