Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
Why has your doctor ordered an MRI for you?
This state of the art testing provides many benefits to the doctor and the patient.
- MRI provides good contrast between the different soft tissues of the body, especially in orthopedic patients
- Unlike CT scans or traditional X-rays, MRI does not use ionizing radiation
- MRI is best suited for cases when a patient is to undergo the exam several times
- MRI machines use a magnetic field to create images of the inside of the body
What happens during an MRI?
Before you enter the MRI scan room, your technologist will explain the procedure and answer any questions you may have. You will be asked to lie down on a padded table that will move through the MRI scanner. (It looks like a long hollow tube) During the MRI scan it is very important for you remain still. 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.
The MRI scanner has a weight limit of 450 pounds. If you weigh more than 450 pounds, please contact your physician's office. Alternative test or an "open" MRI will have to be considered.
Where and when should you arrive?
Please arrive 15 minutes prior to the time that your test is scheduled. Check in at the registration 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
- 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.
- If you have had scans (x-rays, CT scans, MRIs) completed at another OSF HealthCare facility (OSF St. Mary, OSF Saint Francis, etc.), our staff will have access to it via your electronic medical record.
- 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.
What not to bring
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.
How to prepare for the 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.
- If you have a history of working with metal, tiny shavings may be in your eye. These could move when exposed to an MRI machine's magnetic field, potentially damaging your vision. If so, we will ask for an X-ray of your eyes to look for metal before the MRI scan.
Please take all of your scheduled medications unless you have been given other instructions by your physician.
You may receive “contrast material” (called Gadolinium) as part of the test. Contrast is given to patients so the radiologist can better see a specific part of the body in MRI. If you have any known allergies to Gadolinium, please contact your ordering doctor. You may need to take special medications before having this test.
Latex allergy should also be reported before an MRI test.
Prior to testing, a pregnancy test is required for all female patients between the ages of 10 and 55 who are having an MRI.
A pregnancy test should be ordered by your physician if you are a menstruating female and if you have not had a hysterectomy or bilateral oophorectomy. Home pregnancy tests are not acceptable.
This requirement is to avoid potential harm to an unborn baby as a result of the radiation or medications given during the exam.
If you know that you are pregnant please notify your physician.
Questions for your safety
You will be asked several 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.
What can you expect?
- 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 performed.
- 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. There are no diet or activity restrictions.
When will you know the test results?
- Your test will be read by a radiologist (doctor specializing in medical imaging).
- Results will be available to your provider’s office within 36 hours; it may take additional time for your physician to review your results.
- You will need to make arrangements with your ordering provider on how to receive your test results: follow-up appointment or phone call.
What about insurance?
Some insurance companies require pre-certification before an MRI can be performed. Some even require a plain x-ray of the body part with results to the doctor before they will allow an MRI.
Insurance companies require the provider’s office to obtain pre-certification numbers. To avoid problems with scheduling, check with your insurance provider and physician's office to obtain a pre-certification number if needed before scheduling of your MRI.
Appointments and Scheduling
Scheduled MRI exams are offered at OSF Saint Luke Medical Center Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. Late appointments are available on Monday and Wednesday until 6pm. Saturday morning appointments are available for MRI exams that do not require Contrast.
A physician's order is needed to make an appointment.
To schedule an MRI appointment, patients with an order from physician or referring physicians may call OSF Saint Luke Central Scheduling at (309) 852-7550.
Hours, How to Reach Us
The OSF Saint Luke MRI Department is open Monday through Friday. If you have questions, please call the Radiology Department at (309) 852-7680. Our MRI technologists will be happy to assist you.