MRI: What to Expect

MRI, or Magnetic Resonance Imaging, is a non-invasive medical imaging procedure that uses magnetic fields and radio waves to get pictures of bones and soft tissues. It does not use radiation, and is safe. For the best MRI experience, you may feel more comfortable if you know what to expect.

You’ll be referred by your doctor

You can choose to be referred to the Imaging center of your choice. We recommend MANA Imaging & MRI for comfort, cost, and convenience.


Magnetic Resonance Imaging scanning doesn’t require any special preparation or efforts from the patient. 10 million people get MRI scans every year, and the procedure is safe and painless. However, since an MRI machine uses powerful magnets, it is important to check for metal before your test.

Your nurse will ask you the questions on the MRI Screening form to help you remember if you might have any implants or other metal in your body. You will be asked to remove jewelry and perhaps some clothing. These requests make sure that you are safe during the test.

You will be taken to the MRI machine and helped into position on a special bed. You will be fitted with a special open mask if you are having your head scanned. Padding and pillows may be added to help you keep still in the correct position. You will be given earplugs to protect your hearing.


Magnetic Resonance Imaging takes some time — from 7 minutes to an hour, depending on the body part being scanned and the number of images being made. You will be told how long the procedure will take. The bed will slide into the MRI machine and your only job at this point is to keep still.

The MRI machine is noisy. Some of the sounds it makes may be surprising and some are very loud. Some are rhythmic and others may happen just once. Some people are reminded of music, while you may also experience the noises as banging or buzzing or knocking sounds. These sounds are caused by electric pulses through gradient coils in the machine.

You can open or close your eyes, as you prefer.

After the MRI

When the MRI is complete, you may be asked to stay until the results are checked, to be sure you don’t need to take more images.

An MRI does not normally require any recovery time. Some patients require sedative medication because of claustrophobia. If so, you will need someone to drive you home. However, you will usually be able to drive yourself and return to normal activities following an MRI.