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Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

What is MRI?

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a medical imaging technique which produces detailed images of organs, soft tissues, bone and virtually all other internal body structures. MRI provides a stark contrast between the different soft tissues of the body making it especially useful in neurological (brain), musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, and oncological (cancer) imaging.

Unlike CT or X-ray, MRI uses no ionizing radiation, but instead uses a powerful magnetic field to align the magnetization of hydrogen atoms in the body. Radio Frequency (RF) fields are then used to systematically alter the alignment of this magnetization, causing the hydrogen nuclei to produce a rotating magnetic field that is detectable by the scanner. Signals created by this rotating magnetic field are then manipulated by a computer to construct a very detailed image of the body.

What Should I Expect

MRI machines are shaped like large cylinders with openings on both ends.  Patients will lie on an examination table that will then travel into the scanner to properly align the anatomy of the patient with the MRI scanner. MRI scanners create audible noise levels during operation which requires patients to wear hearing protection during their exam. Patients will wear headphones during their procedure that along with protecting their hearing, allows for communication with the technologist and the listening of music during their MRI exam. The typical MRI exam takes between 30-45 minutes to complete depending on the type of study being performed.

MRI Safety

For most individuals, MRI is a very safe imaging procedure. However, for individuals who have certain medically implanted devices, exposure to the strong magnetic field present in the MRI environment may pose a very severe risk to their health. People with the following implants should never enter the MRI scanning area unless instructed to do so by a radiologist or technologist who is aware of the presence of these implants:

  • Pacemaker or internal (implanted) defibrillator.
  • Heart stents.
  • Cochlear (ear) implant.
  • Brain aneurysms clips.
  • Implanted drug infusion pumps or ports.
  • Implanted nerve stimulators.

All patients are required to fill out a safety screening sheet prior to admittance into the MRI scanning area. During this time it is important that you inform the technologist of any implanted medical devices you might have. The technologist will verify that it is safe for you to enter the MRI area prior to your exam.

Available Imaging Procedures:

Abdomen/Liver/Pelvis MRI

Evaluates the liver, spleen, kidneys, adrenal glands and pancreas.

Preparation:

  • Do not eat food or drink liquids 4 hours prior to your exam.
  • Allow 60-90 minutes for the exam.

Abdomen/Pelvis  MRI

Evaluates the uterus, cervix and ovaries in women; evaluates the prostate, bladder, penis and scrotum in men.

Prepration:

  • Do not eat food or drink liquids 4 hours prior to your exam.
  • Allow 60-90 minutes for the exam.

Chest MRI/MRA

Assesses structures within the chest cavity, including the heart and lungs. Chest MRI detects and stages cancer of the lungs, breast and other tissues. It is also used to evaluate blood vessels and lymph nodes. A special form of MRI called magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) can demonstrate narrowing of the coronary arteries or an actual blockage by fatty deposits or a blood clot, which often precedes clinical heart disease.

Preparation:

  • No coffee, tea, nicotine or any other stimulants 4 hours prior to your exam.
  • Allow 60-90 minutes for the exam.

Heart MRI

Assesses heart function and structure.

Preparation:

  • No coffee, tea, nicotine or any other stimulants 4 hours prior to your exam.
  • Allow 60-90 minutes for the exam.

Head MRI

Evaluates brain function and abnormalities; used to diagnose stroke, tumor or other neurological conditions.

Preparation:

  • Anything that might degrade images of the head will need to be removed, including hairpins, jewelry, eyeglasses, hearing aids and any removable dental work.
  • Hair must be dry.
  • Allow 60-90 minutes for the exam.

Lower and Upper Extremities MRI

Evaluates joints (such as knee, shoulder or ankle) and soft tissues to detect ruptured ligaments, damaged cartilage or small fractures that can't be seen on regular x-rays.

Preparation:

  • Allow 30-60 minutes for the exam.

Pediatric Exams

Please call for specific instructions.

MRI Exam Guidelines

Preparation

  • Prior to your scheduled appointment, OVERLAKE will call you to discuss specific instructions, review your health and insurance information and answer any questions.
  • Follow the specific preparation instructions listed above for your particular type of MRI exam.
  • If you’ve had an allergic reaction to a contrast agent in any prior imaging exam, please notify our staff before your appointment.
  • Prior to the exam, eat normally and take your medication as usual (unless your physician has given you other instructions.)
  • Leave your valuables at home. All jewelry and any metal objects must be removed prior to the exam.
  • Wear comfortable clothing without zippers, snaps or metal buttons. Or, you may change into a hospital gown or scrubs after arriving.
  • Please notify the technologist if you are pregnant or could be pregnant.
  • Please bring all relevant prior examination films or studies (CT, MRI, ultrasound, x-rays, etc.) with you on the day of your exam.
  • For your listening pleasure, we have music available for you to choose from and listen to.
  • If sedation is requested, please call for instructions. You will need to arrange for someone to drive you home.
  • Please arrive 30 minutes prior to your exam.

Contact Us

If you would like to schedule an imaging procedure, call 425-688-0100. To speak to a Medical Imaging staff member, call 425-688-5564.

Did You Know?

A registered technologist specializes in radiography and radiation physics. He/she must complete a two-year intensive program and successfully pass a written registry examination. Due to strict standards, hospitals often employ the most talented and skilled professionals in this field.

The physician with a subspecialty in a particular area offers the patient heightened insight and expertise. Subspecialty training gives the physician a greater breadth and depth of knowledge which benefits the patient.

Overlake is compliant with all the Federal privacy regulations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). The Overlake Privacy Statement is available on this website.

Parking

Parking is FREE at our Issaquah and Redmond sites. The first hour is FREE at our hospital locations.

Locations

Overlake Medical Center - 1035 116th Ave NE, Bellevue

Medical Tower (hospital campus) - 1135 116th Ave NE, Suite 260, Bellevue

Issaquah - 5708 E Lake Sammamish Pkwy SE, Issaquah

Redmond - 17209 Redmond Way, Redmond