What should I expect during magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)?

For a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan, you must lie motionless inside a large tube located in the center of a room-sized machine. The process is noisy, so you must wear ear protection. Some people feel claustrophobic inside the device, but many testing facilities provide earphones so you can listen to music to ease some of the anxiety. MRI machines of a more open design are available in some facilities. The procedure takes 20 to 45 minutes. If intravenous dye is needed to enhance the image, it's usually given halfway through the procedure.

During the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) examination, which takes an average of 30 minutes, a "knocking" sound can be heard. This is a normal effect of the gradient coils responding to the different fields. Despite this noise, most patients can easily tolerate the procedure. A technologist is always in close observation and intercom communication with the patient throughout the procedure.

Continue Learning about Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

Who can't have an MRI?
Regional Medical CenterRegional Medical Center
Patients with pacemakers and other metals in the body may not be MRI candidates—and anxiety may play...
More Answers
Is it safe to have an MRI if I have a pacemaker?
UCLA HealthUCLA Health
It may be safe to have an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) if you have a pacemaker, but safety guide...
More Answers
Do digital mammography and MRIs improve health outcomes?
Alice DomarAlice Domar
Digital mammography and MRI have been offered as improvements over conventional mammography, but...
More Answers
What to Expect From an MRI
What to Expect From an MRI

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.