Magnetic Resonance Imaging
What Is an MRI?
An MRI is a test that uses a strong magnetic field and radio waves to take detailed images of organs and tissues. The atoms in your body respond to this energy. An MRI detects this response.
When you get an MRI, you can't have any metal objects like jewelry or zippers because of the strong magnet.
Unlike X-rays or CT exams, an MRI does not use radiation. Some MRI exams use contrast. Contrast helps improve the clarity of images to make a diagnosis more accurate.
We perform many types of MRI exams, including breast MRI, cardiac MRI and prostate MRI.
How to Prepare for a MRI
Log into Patient Gateway for more details on your specific appointment.
- Screening Call - Expect to get a phone call from our MRI staff about three days before your appointment. We will ask you questions about allergies and implants. The call helps make sure we have everything ready for you when you arrive. During this call, please let us know if you'd like interpreter services during your appointment so we have enough time to coordinate support.
- Implants - Please let our MRI staff know if you have anything metal or electronically implanted in your body. Bring information about any metal or electronic implants in your body to your appointment. We will need to make sure it is safe for you to have an MRI with it in place.
- Eating and Drinking - Some MRI exams restrict what you can eat and drink before your appointment. Your doctor's office can give you the details for your specific exam.
- Contrast - There are two kinds – the kind you drink in the waiting room and the kind that you get through an IV. You may need contrast for your MRI.
- Claustrophobia - Ask your doctor about medicine to help you relax during your exam if you have a fear of small spaces. We don't have any in our department that we can give you.
- Clothing - Please wear clothes that are easy to change out of. All MRI patients at Mass General change into hospital attire for safety.
- Valuables - Valuables are not allowed in the exam room. Lockers are available, but we suggest you leave your valuables at home.
- Children - If you need to bring kids to your appointment, please bring someone to watch them in the waiting room. MRI staff cannot be responsible for supervising minor children during an MRI appointment.
Learn more about what happens before, during and after an MRI exam at Mass General Imaging.
Hear What an MRI Sounds Like
Listen now to find out. You will hear variations in sound as electricity passes through internal parts of the scanner.
Use these patient resources to answer other questions about your appointment. You can also contact us if you need any help.