MRI Safety Information for Patients

Patient safety tips prior to an MRI

Because of the strong magnetic field used during the exam, certain conditions may prevent you from having the procedure. When scheduling your appointment, please alert our staff to any of the following conditions that may apply. Our staff will inform you whether you can have an MRI exam and if there are needs for modifications.

  • Pacemaker
  • Pregnancy
  • Claustrophobia
  • History of kidney problems
  • Skin tattoos
  • Neurostimulators (TENS-unit) or dorsal column stimulator
  • Implanted drug infusion device such as an insulin pump
  • Exposure of metal fragments to your eye
  • Artificial heart valves
  • Aneurysm clips
  • Cochlear implants
  • Metallic implants and prosthesis
  • Vascular stent or stent graft
  • History as a metal worker
  • Shrapnel or bullet wounds
  • Allergy to iodine, or gadolinium
  • History of diabetes
  • Other conditions you believe to be relevant


Other Items to Note:

  • Leave valuables at home, including jewelry, to prevent from being lost. None can be worn during the scan.
  • Please let us know if you need language assistance services.
  • Bring a list of current medications.
  • If you are claustrophobic and experience anxiety, your doctor may prescribe medication for you to take at your appointment. Please let us know if your doctor does so.

What to expect before an exam?

Little preparation is required for an MRI exam. Take your daily medications as you normally would, unless instructed otherwise. There are few dietary restrictions for an MRI. If your exam requires it, you will be notified.

  • Please arrive at least 30 minutes prior to your exam to check in and complete the MRI screening form.
  • Wear lightweight clothing that is free of any metal.
  • To eliminate possible imaging safety issues, should your clothing have metal on them, you will be asked to change into a hospital gown or paper shorts.
  • Your belongings will be stored in a secure location.
  • Your screening form will be reviewed by the technologist in consultation with a radiologist if indicated. If MRI contrast is indicated for the exam, an IV catheter will be inserted in your arm by a nurse or technologist.

What to expect during an MRI scan?

  • The duration of the procedure varies but average length is 45 minutes to one hour per area scanned.
  • You must lie still during scan. Depending on the area of the body that is being examined, you may be asked to hold your breath for up to 30 seconds.
  • During the imaging, you will hear a loud intermittent knocking noise. You will be provided with earplugs or headphones to minimize the noise during the procedure.
  • The technologist will be able to hear and speak with you throughout the exam. They will also provide you with an alarm button to alert them to any discomfort you may experience at any point during the MRI exam.
  • Some MRI exams require an injection of intravenous MRI contrast. Inform the technologist if you experience any discomfort during the injection.

What to expect after a MRI scan?

  • Allergic reaction from gadolinium dye is extremely rare. However, if you experience symptoms such as rash, hives, or shortness of breath, you should notify the technologist immediately if you are still at the imaging facility, or call your doctor or go to the nearest hospital if you have already left the imaging center.
  • In the event that your doctor prescribes sedative medication (such as for claustrophobia), you will need to arrange for someone to drive you home.