What is it?

An MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) uses powerful magnetic and radio waves to view the internal organs or structure of the body.

What is the purpose?

This procedure provides a very detailed look into the body. X-rays only show bones, an MRI lets the doctor see structures made of soft tissue such as ligaments and cartilage and organs such as eyes, brain, and heart. It is very useful in diagnosing the soft tissue damage that may occur with inflammatory arthritis.

Is there any special preparation?

There are usually no special pre-test instructions. You do need to make your doctor aware if you have any metal implants in your body. This includes metal plates and screws, pacemakers, metal fragments in the eyes, insulin pumps and bullet fragments. It is best to wear clothes without metal zippers, buttons or snaps, if not you will be asked to put on a hospital gown.

How is it done?

You will lie down on a padded table that moves into a doughnut- shaped magnet that is open on both ends. The table will move into the magnet, you will need to lie very still during the procedure. While the images are being taken you will hear loud knocking and a whirring sound. The sounds will be stopped several times during the procedure and the technician may give you certain instructions.

Some people feel very claustrophobic while in the MRI tube. If you suffer from claustrophobia, inform your doctor before scheduling the test. Some facilities offer “open MRIs” which are not closed in like traditional ones. If the “open” MRI is not an option you may be given a mild sedative to relax you before beginning the MRI.

What happens afterwards?

There are no after effects from an MRI.

What are the risks of this procedure?

Since it is not an invasive procedure there are no potential risks.

Does it hurt?

It is not painful, but some people may find lying still uncomfortable.


Depending on what body parts are being looked at, the test may take 30-90 minutes.

For more information:


Magnetic Resonance Imaging�

Yale University School of Medicine, Patient’s Guide to Medical Tests
Adult Health Advisor -MRI, Copyright � Clinical Reference Systems 1999