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What to Expect Before an MRI
Before the Examination
Before your MRI examination, you should inform your caregiver if you have food allergies, drug allergies, hay fever, hives, or allergic asthma. Your caregiver should also know if you have any serious health problems, and what surgeries you have undergone. Women should always inform their physician or technologist if there is any possibility they are pregnant.
We will not perform an MRI on a patient during the first trimester (the first three months) of pregnancy. If you are breastfeeding at the time of the examination, you should ask your technologist how to proceed.
You should not have an MRI if you have anything in your body that a magnet attracts. Because they can interfere with the magnetic field of the MRI machine, metal and electronic objects are not allowed in the examination room. Items that may interfere with your having an MRI include:
Clothing and accessories:
- Jewelry including rings, earrings, necklaces, or watches
- Pens, pocketknives, and eyeglasses
- Credit cards and other cards containing magnetic data
- Pins, hairpins, and similar metallic items, which can distort MRI images
- Clothing has metal hooks, buttons, zippers, or other metal items on it
Metal from surgery or injury:
- Removable dental work
- Bullets or pieces of shrapnel
- Pieces of metal fragments in your eyes from welding
Medical aids and implants:
- Hearing aids and cochlear (ear) implants
- Artificial or prosthetic limbs or joints, such as an artificial knee joint
- Aneurysm clips
- Heart pacemaker
- Implanted cardiac defibrillator
- Implanted IV ports
- Implanted spinal stimulators
- Insulin pump
- Certain intrauterine devices or "IUDs"
- Medication patches - also called a "transdermal" or "skin" patch. Some medication patches may have metal in or on them. Examples of medication patches are nicotine, birth control, and nitroglycerin patches.
- Some metal surgical pins, plates, screws, or surgical staples. In most cases, these things will not cause a problem with an MRI.
Creatinine blood test
A creatinine blood test is required within 30 days prior to the MRI examination for the following people:
- Patients who are age 70 years or older
- Patients who are diabetic (insulin and non-insulin dependent types)
- Patients who have a history of kidney insufficiency/kidney masses/single kidney
If you have this test done at an outside facility, it is your responsibility to obtain a copy of the result and bring it to the appointment with you.
Learn more about blood tests.
Eating before your appointment
If you are getting intravenous contrast material, which helps your body part show up better in the MRI pictures, or sedative medicine during the examination, you may be asked to not eat solid food for four to eight hours before the examination.
If you are getting a mesenteric ischemia MRI, you may not have food for six hours prior to the examination, but you may have water.
If you are receiving a certain cardiac MRI examination, you may not have food for two hours before the examination and NO coffee (decaf or regular); NO caffeine; NO tea; and NO chocolate for 24 hours prior to the examination.
For patients who suffer from claustrophobia
If you require medication for claustrophobia, please have your referring physician arrange a prescription for you.
Please call 650-723-6855 if:
- You cannot make it to your MRI appointment on time.
- The problems for which you are having an MRI get worse.
- You have questions or concerns about having an MRI.
You have the right to help plan your care. To help with this plan, you must learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. You can then discuss treatment options with your caregivers. Work with them to decide what care may be used to treat you. You always have the right to refuse care.