MRI uses a powerful magnetic field, radio-frequency pulses and a computer to produce detailed pictures of organs and structures inside the body. During the MRI, you will be asked to lie on a table so the area of your body being studied may be placed in a device called a coil. It is important that you remain very still during the test. During the exam, you will hear noises similar to loud tapping or knocking. To make you more comfortable, earplugs or headphones will be provided.

Because MRI is used to find problems, such as tumors, bleeding, injury, blood vessel problems, or infection the test will always be scheduled in advance. An MRI may be done using contrast material to see abnormal tissue clearly. An MRI can be done for the: head, chest, blood vessels, abdomen, pelvis, bones and joints.

All patients must go through an extensive screening prior to scan. You will be contacted by Graham Health System for screening prior to your test.

Appointments are available 5 days per week. If your physician has ordered an MRI exam, please call: (309) 647-5240, ext. 2860 to schedule.

How should I prepare for an MRI?

Prior to the date of your exam a Graham Health System employee will call you to complete a screening process. During the screening process we will discuss such items as attire, medications, and food consumption.

Guidelines about eating and drinking before an MRI exam vary with the specific exam. Unless you are told otherwise, you may follow your regular daily routine and take food and medications as usual.

You may be asked to wear a gown during the exam or you may be allowed to wear your own clothing if it is loose-fitting and has no metal fasteners.

Some MRI examinations may require you to receive an injection of contrast material into the bloodstream. The radiologist, technologist, or nurse will ask about conditions that might mean a gadolinium injection would not be recommended (e.g.: pregnancy, previous allergic reaction, severe kidney disease) If you have any of these conditions, then you will not be given gadolinium. Women should always inform their physician or technologist if there is any possibility that they are pregnant, a pregnancy test may be required prior to the exam.

If you have claustrophobia (fear of enclosed spaces) or anxiety, you may want to ask your physician for a prescription for a mild sedative prior to your scheduled examination.

Jewelry and other accessories should be left at home, if possible, or removed prior to the MRI scan. Because they can interfere with the magnetic field of the MRI unit, metal and electronic items are not allowed in the exam room. In addition to affecting the MRI images, these objects can become projectiles within the MRI scanner room and may cause you and/or others nearby harm. These items include:

  • jewelry, watches, credit cards and hearing aids, all of which can be damaged
  • pins, hairpins, metal zippers and similar metallic items, which can distort MRI images
  • removable dental work
  • pens, pocket knives and eyeglasses
  • body piercings

In most cases, an MRI exam is safe for patients with metal implants, except for a few types. People with the following implants cannot be scanned and should not enter the MRI scanning area:

  • cochlear (ear) implant
  • some types of clips used for brain aneurysms
  • some types of metal coils placed within blood vessels
  • nearly all cardiac defibrillators and pacemakers

You should tell the technologist if you have medical or electronic devices in your body. These objects may interfere with the exam or potentially pose a risk, depending on their nature and the strength of the MRI magnet. Many implanted devices will have a pamphlet explaining the MRI risks for that particular device. If you have the pamphlet, it is useful to bring that to the attention of the scheduler before the exam and bring it to your exam in case the radiologist or technologist has any questions.

If there is any question of their presence, an x-ray may be taken to detect and identify any metal objects. In general, metal objects used in orthopedic surgery pose no risk during MRI. However, a recently placed artificial joint may require the use of another imaging procedure.

Patients who might have metal objects in certain parts of their bodies may also require an x-ray prior to an MRI. You should notify the technologist or radiologist of any shrapnel, bullets, or other pieces of metal that may be present in your body due to prior accidents. Foreign bodies near and especially lodged in the eyes are particularly important because they may move during the scan, possibly causing blindness. Dyes used in tattoos may contain iron and could heat up during an MRI scan, but this is rare. Tooth fillings and braces usually are not affected by the magnetic field, but they may distort images of the facial area or brain, so you should let the technologist know about them.