What is Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)?
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a noninvasive medical test that helps physicians diagnose and treat medical conditions.
MRI uses a magnetic field and pulses of radio wave energy to make pictures of organs, soft tissues, bone and virtually all other internal body structures. In many cases, MRI gives different information about structures in the body than can be seen with X-ray, ultrasound or a computed tomography (CT) scan. MRI may also be used to show problems that cannot be seen with other imaging methods.
MRI is performed to evaluate:
- Organs of the chest, abdomen and pelvis - including the heart, liver, biliary tract, kidney, spleen, pancreas and adrenal glands.
- Pelvic organs including the reproductive organs in the male (prostate and testicles) and the female (uterus, cervix and ovaries).
- Pelvic and hip bones.
- Blood vessels (Magnetic Resonance Angiography or MRA).
- Breast cancer and implants.
- Heart problems including the aorta and other blood vessels. For more information, visit our Magnetic Resonance Angiography (MRA) and Cardiac CT Services.
Adventist Medical Center's MRI department and Gresham Imaging Center are accredited by the American College of Radiology (ACR). Click here for more information regarding this accreditation.
Preparing for Your MRI
What to Expect
- Is there any chance you are pregnant?
- Do you have a pacemaker or defibrillator?
- Do you have an aneurysm clip in your brain?
- Do you have any implanted electronic device?
If you answered yes to any of the questions above, please call 503-251-6132 and speak with an MRI technologist.
- Our staff may request you not eat or drink anything prior to your exam if a contrast media "dye" will be administered. If you think you may be allergic to contrast dye, please contact your physician for pre-medication instructions.
- Nothing metallic may be worn. Please leave all watches and jewelry at home.
- Patients over 70, with diabetes or known renal disease, need a serum creatinine test obtained within 3 months of the exam.
- Please make sure the staff performing your MRI is aware of any metal fragments you may have in your body, including those from old injuries or wounds (e.g. shrapnel, slivers from grinding or welding).
- If you feel apprehensive in tight places or about the MRI procedure itself, let your doctor know. Your doctor may prescribe a mild sedative to help you relax. Click here for more information regarding claustrophobia or anxiety concerning
- We recommend you do not wear eye makeup; some brands contain metallic substances that can cause swelling or discomfort.
- Wear comfortable clothing that does not contain metal, such as snaps, buckles or zippers.
What to Expect When having an MRI at Adventist Medical Center,
- If there are metal zippers, snaps or buttons on your clothes you will be asked to change into a hospital gown.
- An IV port may be inserted for gadolinium (contrast material) administration.
- You will be offered earplugs, as the MRI scanner makes a loud "knocking" sound.
- You will be taken into the MRI room and asked to lie on the table, which slides out from the scanner.
- Once you are comfortable, the technologist will leave the room, however, will be in constant communication with you.
- The technologist will tell you how long each sequence will last. Each sequence generally lasts from 30 seconds to three minutes.
- The scanner makes a loud banging or clanging sound for the duration of the sequence. You may experience some vibration. After each sequence, there will be a short break of 5 to 10 seconds before the technologist tells you how long the next sequence will last.
- A little over half way through the procedure, the gadolinium (if being used) will be injected, either with a syringe or into the IV port that has been installed for this purpose. It usually feels a little cold.
- The duration of the entire test depends on:
- What is being scanned, e.g. the brain, spine etc.
- If the scan will be done with gadolinium (contrast
- Generally, tests are completed within 30 to 60 minutes.
What is claustrophobia?
Claustrophobia is defined as a fear of enclosed spaces. To most people this translates to a feeling of anxiety or panic (from a level of "just a little anxiety" to severe panic), when in a small or confined area. In MRI, the enclosed space is the inside of the magnet machine. The magnet is open on both ends. Many individuals who suffer from claustrophobia may require medication to relieve or reduce their anxiety in order to have the MRI successfully performed.
What medication is recommended?
If medication is deemed necessary, we recommend Xanax®. It is a drug used widely for panic attacks. Please consult with your doctor for a prescription prior to your arrival.
You must have a designated driver bring you to your exam and take you home following your exam if you have been prescribed medication.
Patient Education: Oral Sedation
Breast MRI is rapidly becoming an essential tool in the diagnosis and management of breast cancer. While mammography is still the best and only screening tool for detecting early breast cancer in the general population, MRI is increasingly being utilized to evaluate ambiguous findings on mammography, ultrasound and adjunctive screening examinations for the smaller population of "high risk" women.
Breast MRI Indications
- Evaluating newly diagnosed breast cancer cases for extent of disease as well as for multicentric and contralateral disease.
- Aiding in the biopsy of lesions occult on mammography and ultrasound.
- Managing findings on mammography and ultrasound, which are indeterminate, specifically to aid in the decision as to whether biopsy or short term follow-up is recommended.
- Evaluating breast implants for possible rupture or leakage.
- Distinguishing post-lumpectomy scarring from local recurrence.
- Screening high risk patients, including:
- Carriers of the BRCA1, BRCA2, PTEN and P53 mutations.
- Patients with greater than 20 percent lifetime risk of developing breast cancer.
- Strong family history of breast cancer (e.g., one or more first degree relatives with breast cancer).
For women, pelvic MRI provides a detailed look at the ovaries and uterus and is often used to follow up on an abnormality seen on ultrasound. Pelvic MRI is also used to look at the bones and muscles of the pelvis as well as evaluate the spread of cancer to the uterus.
Pelvic Floor Dysfunction
Pelvic floor dysfunction (PFD) is a hidden women's health epidemic in the United States, with over 10% of women having a lifetime risk for undergoing a surgical repair for this problem. Pelvic floor dysfunction is an umbrella term for a heterogeneous (unassociated) group of disorders affecting up to 50 percent of middle-aged and older women presenting with:
- Pelvic pain
- Dyspareunia (pain during intercourse)
- Incomplete emptying
The development of MRI, which allows noninvasive, radiation-free, rapid, high-resolution evaluation of the entire pelvis in one examination now plays a major role in the clinical management of the two main components of PFD: pelvic floor relaxation and pelvic organ prolapse.
Magnetic Resonance Angiography (MRA) is a non-invasive way for doctors to evaluate the various blood vessels in the body. MRA can reveal blood vessel narrowing (stenosis), blockage (occlusion), aneurysm (weak ballooning area on the vessel) and other abnormalities. MRA is frequently used for evaluating the blood vessels in the brain, neck (carotid and vertebral arteries), kidneys and legs, but also can be used elsewhere in the body.
Spine MRI is most commonly used to look for a herniated disk or narrowing of the spinal canal (spinal stenosis) in people with neck, arm, back and/or leg pain. It is also the best test to use to look for a recurrent disk herniation in a person with a history of prior back surgery.
An MRI of the brain produces very detailed pictures of the brain and is commonly used to study people with such problems as headaches, seizures, weakness, hearing loss and blurry vision. It can also be used to further evaluate an abnormality seen on a CT Scan.
MRI and MR Angiography (MRA) can be a powerful combination for thorough assessment for stroke or potential stroke patients. MRI of the brain that includes "diffusion" weighted imaging provides early detection of strokes in the brain. MRA of the brain and neck shows narrowing which could lead to stroke, and it can show areas where the blood supply has been interrupted in a patient who has had a stroke.
The wrist, elbow, shoulder, ankle, knee and hips can all be evaluated in great detail using MRI. In addition to assessing the bony structures, MRI provides valuable information concerning the cartilage, ligament, tendons and muscles, known as "soft tissue" structures. Abnormalities such as tears, strains, and inflammation can all be assessed effectively with MRI.