magnetic resonance imaging mri

Preparing for an MRI

Be ready for your procedure at Adventist Health Simi Valley

MRI is a totally painless process. However, depending on your specific scan, you may have to lie still on your back for 30–45 minutes. In most cases, your head and upper body will be inside the MRI machine, so if you are uncomfortable in tight spaces, you will need to prepare yourself to cope with this inconvenience. You will also hear a repetitive knocking noise during the procedure, which some people find unpleasant. Here are some tips to help you prepare.

Ask questions

The best way to dispel any fears you have about undergoing an MRI is simply to talk with your doctor or the staff at the MRI center. Don't ever be afraid to ask questions — even questions you think might sound silly. If you have concerns about a particular aspect of your MRI procedure, alternatives may be available.

Overcoming your fear of MRI

If you are afraid of being in tight spaces (claustrophobic) or are unfamiliar with what happens during an MRI, you may be a bit nervous about your upcoming procedure. However, learning these facts about having an MRI should help to reduce your anxiety:

  • You're not closed in: Although your head and upper body will likely go inside the MRI machine, you will never be entirely closed in. If you look above your head, you can clearly see out one end of the machine, and if you look toward your feet, you will see that the other end is open, too. More than likely, the lower part of your body will lie entirely outside the machine.
  • You're in constant communication with staff: You can easily communicate with the MRI technologist while you are inside the machine — and he or she can communicate back to you — through headphones you will receive before your procedure. In addition, the MRI tech will be able to see you throughout the scan.
  • You'll have light, air and music: Inside the MRI machine, you will find a light and a fan. Before your procedure, you will be offered earphones so that you can listen to music or the radio during your procedure. You can bring your own CD to listen to or you can choose from our collection.
  • You can receive a mild sedative: Most people can complete an MRI without the need for a sedative to help them relax. However, if you are extremely fearful about having your MRI, talk with your doctor about getting a prescription medicine to take the day of your procedure. If you're going to take a sedative, keep in mind that you will need to arrange for someone to drive you to and from your MRI appointment. Note that you must take the sedative before you arrive. You cannot wait to take it right before or during the procedure, because it takes at least an hour for the medication to take effect.
  • You can choose another relaxing touch: For many people, there is nothing like a moist, cool cloth over the eyes and forehead to help them relax. We'll offer you this low-tech, but extremely comforting, option.
  • A friend or family member can be nearby: You are welcome to bring a friend or family member into the scanning room with you. They can be there throughout your procedure.
  • The MRI staff is there to help: Our staff will be glad to discuss any concerns you have before your procedure and to offer alternatives, if any are available. If at any time during your scan you feel absolutely unable to continue, your MRI tech will stop the procedure and remove you from the scanner.