OSF Saint James - John W. Albrecht Medical Center

Pontiac, Illinois

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

MRI MRI This is a diagnostic test using radio waves and a magnetic field to provide detailed images of particular parts of your body. There is no exposure to x-ray radiation.

The scanner looks like a long hollow tube. You will be asked to lie down on a padded table that will move through the MRI scanner. The MRI technologist will explain the procedure to you prior to your coming into the MRI scan room and answer any questions you may have.

The MRI scanner has a weight limit of 350 pounds. If you weigh more than 350 pounds, please contact your physician's office. Alternative test or an "open" MRI will have to be considered.


Please arrive 30 minutes prior to the time that your test is scheduled. Check in at the outpatient services desk located in the front lobby of the hospital. After check-in and registration, the MRI technologists will meet you in the waiting area.

What to Bring With You

If you have had a scan (x-rays, CT scans, MRIs) completed at another OSF Healthcare facility (OSF St. Joseph, OSF Saint Francis, etc.), our staff will have access to it via your electronic medical record. However, if your scan was performed at a facility outside of OSF, please bring copies of the films or a CD with you the day of your test. You may also request that your doctor's office send the films or results to us before your test.

Please bring a list of all of the medications you take, include the dose you take and how often you take them. Please include all over the counter medications on your list.

How to Prepare for Your Procedure

If your test is scheduled without contrast there are no special instructions or diet restrictions for your test. For tests scheduled with contrast you should have nothing to eat or drink two hours before your test.


Please remove all jewelry and/or piercing prior to your test. All metal objects outside your body must be removed before entering the scan room. Examples include items such as jewelry, watches, coins, clothing with zippers or snaps, belt buckles, bobby pins, hearing aids, and dentures.


Please take all of your scheduled medications unless you have been given other instructions by your physician.


You may receive contrast as part of the test. Contrast is given to patients so the radiologist can better see a specific part of the body in MRI. The contrast in this test is called Gadolinium. If you have any known allergies to Gadolinium, please contact your ordering doctor. You may need to take special medications before having this test.

*Please inform the staff if you have an allergy to Latex.

Pregnancy Testing Policy

It is the policy of OSF Saint James to conduct pregnancy tests on all female patients between the ages of 10 and 55 who are having a CT, MRI, Nuclear Medicine, Angiography, or X-ray exams of the pelvic/uterine area.

This policy is to avoid potential harm to an unborn baby as a result of the radiation or medications given during the exam.

A pregnancy test is required prior to the procedures listed above and should be ordered by your physician if you are a menstrating female and if you have not had a hysterectomy or bilateral oophorectomy. Home pregnancy tests are not acceptable.

If you know that you are pregnant please notify your physician.


You will be asked several safety questions prior to your test. Please contact the MRI department or your physician's office if you have any of the following implants:

  • Brain aneurysm clips
  • Cardiac pacemaker and/or defibrillator
  • Implanted nerve stimulation devices
  • If you ever had any metal removed from your eyes
  • Any injury involving bullets or BB's
  • Cochlear Implant
  • Cozmo insulin pump
  • Magnetically activated implants of any kind

The technologist will go through a safety checklist prior to your scan. You will be able to ask the MRI technologist any additional questions that you may have at that time.

During the MRI scan it is very important for you to hold still during the test. The quality of pictures is affected by any movement. If you are claustrophobic or have a medical condition that makes it uncomfortable for you to hold still for 45-60 minutes please contact your physician. You will need to discuss alternative tests or sedation options with your physician. We do not give patients sedation in the MRI department, unless special arrangements have been made through your physician.


You may be asked to change into a hospital gown if you are wearing clothing that contains metal (i.e. zippers, snaps, bras etc.). We will ask you to empty all of pockets to check for metal objects.

Your test will take approximately 45-60 minutes. The exact time depends on the exam being preformed.

The MRI technologist will position you on the MRI table and will position coils around the area being examined.

If your test is ordered with contrast an IV will be started in your arm. The contrast will be injected by the MRI tech during the exam. The IV will be removed before you leave.

During your exam the MRI tech may give you special breathing instructions. You may be required to hold your breath for about 15 seconds.

After the Procedure

You may leave once the MRI is completed, unless special arrangements have been made for sedation. There are no diet or activity restrictions.

Test Results

Your test will be read by a Radiologist (doctor specializing in medical imaging). Results will be available to your physician's office within 24 hours BUT may take some time for your physician to review your results. You will need to make arrangements with your ordering doctor on how to receive your test results (such as follow-up doctor appointment, calling the doctor's office, etc.).


MRI services are available to the community Monday through Friday. MRI tests are scheduled through the patient's physician's office.