Questions commonly asked by patients before an MRI scan

In this blog series, we will be answering all of

The moment when your doctor tells you that you will be needing an MRI scan can be a stressful time that is filled with more questions than answers. is here to provide your with the information you need so that you know what to expect and you may be confident going in to your diagnostic procedure.

Q: What does MRI scan stand for?

A: MRI scan refers to Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). It is a method of obtaining diagnostic quality image of the anatomy using superconductive magnets (Magnetic), High-frequency RF waves (Resonance), and computed image reconstructions (Imaging) to obtain high definition images that can be viewed by a radiologist.

Q: What does an MRI show?

A: MRI exams are ordered by a radiologist when detailed images of soft tissue, bone, organs, liquids inside the body or other anatomical structures are needed to diagnose a medical condition. An MRI scan can be used to detect anomalies in the anatomy such as tumors, cancer, trauma, infection, or developmental abnormalities. MRI scans of the brain can show trauma, stroke, multiple sclerosis, causes of headaches, and signs of dementia. New research with functional MRI (fMRI) can also detect the likelihood that someone will be able to quit smoking.

HD Brain MRI, Sagittal View

Q: Will MRI scan show cancer? 

A: An MRI scan is used for oncology patients to determine whether a tumor is cancerous or to determine whether cancer has metastasized into other regions of the body. A patient is typically injected with a contrast agent that highlights cancer in the anatomy.

Q: Is MRI scan painful?

A: An MRI scan is typically not painful. An MRI scan is a non-invasive procedure that utilizes a magnet and radio frequencies to produce detailed images. The patient is typically provided with ear protection but will still be able to hear the various radio frequencies as the scan progresses. Most discomfort during scans reported by patient occurs due to the various positions patients must lie in during MRI scan. Head MRI scan, Neck MRI scan, Shoulder MRI scan, Spine MRI scan, Knee MRI Scan, Foot MRI scan procedures allow patients to lie on their backs. Extremity scans, as with Wrist MRI scan procedures, can have patients lying on side or in “superman” position.

Q: Is MRI scan scary?

A: An MRI scan is not scary and does not have to be an intimidating experience. Most patients that have bad experiences during an MRI scan complain of anxiety or claustrophobia when having to enter the magnet. Many patients also have difficulty staying still during their exam due to injury or positioning during scan. The majority of patients have no issues during their exam and some even find it to be the perfect time to take a short nap. Many imaging centers offer many patient comfort accessories, such as headphones that let you listen to your favorite playlist during your MRI scan, earplugs, pillows, blankets and many more.

Q: Is MRI scan safe? 

A: Magnetic resonance imaging is among the safest methods of acquiring diagnostic quality images of the anatomy. MRI scans are non-invasive procedures that uses a magnet and radio frequency to create images of the human body. Patients are typically screened for any foreign metal objects before entering the magnet room. The superconductive magnet has no effect on any biological function of the human body. Should an emergency occur, MRI systems are outfitted with multiple safety switches that allow the MRI technologist to immediately end the exam and shut off power to system or quench the magnet, effectively removing the magnetic field from the magnet, if needed in extreme circumstances.

Related questions: Is MRI scan for cancer? Is MRI scan harmful? Is MRI scan radiation? What will MRI scan show? What’s an MRI scan? What is an MRI scan used for? What MRI scan can show? What does an MRI scan do? Can MRI scan detect cancer? How safe is MRI scan? How is MRI scan used? Is MRI scan claustrophobia?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s