About MRI

MRI is a very useful type of diagnostic imaging exam and can be used for a variety of reasons.

MRI is short for Magnetic Resonance Imaging. MRI is a very useful type of diagnostic imaging exam and can be used for a variety of reasons. MRI is very sensitive to changes in body tissue and has a very high resolution. This allows a radiologist to see changes that may not be visible in other imaging exams. MRI excels at imaging soft tissues such as internal organs, muscles, cartilage and the brain and spinal cord. It is also very sensitive to subtle changes in bones. While MRI is a very powerful and versatile technology, it is not used in all circumstances. Your doctor will let you know if MRI is the right exam for you.

MRI does not use radiation as CT scans and x-rays do. Instead, MRI creates images using a very strong magnet and radio waves. The images are cross sections like CT scans, but MRI can also take lengthwise images without the patient having to change position.

Some MRI scans require the use of a contrast medium called gadolinium. The contrast, which is given intravenously, highlights certain body parts so the radiologist can better see any abnormalities.

Conventional MRI machines have a donut shape with a tube that is usually about 3 feet in length. This exam causes anxiety for some people who are claustrophobic. If you know you are claustrophobic, please let our staff know at the time of scheduling. You may be given a mild sedative to help you relax during your exam.

Wide-Bore MRI

Wide-bore MRI has a shorter and wider tube, or “bore,” than a traditional MRI scanner. Our wide-bore MRI is about half the traditional length yet provides the same high field technology to achieve the same image quality. Since the tube is shorter, part of your body will be outside the scanner during your exam. For example, if your feet are being imaged, your head will be outside of the scanner. This may make the exam more comfortable for claustrophobic patients. With a wider opening (70cm or about the size of a hula hoop) and a weight limit of 550 pounds, this scanner allows us to offer MRI exams to larger patients who may exceed the size or weight limitations of a traditional MRI scanner.

Risks Involved in an MRI

MRI uses a very strong magnet. It could be dangerous to be in the magnetic field if you have any of the following:

  • Pacemaker
  • Aneurysm clips in the brain
  • Implanted electronic devices such as nerve stimulators or medication pumps
  • Metal fragments or splinters in the eye from grinding metal or welding
  • Shrapnel
  • Implants in the inner ear (cochlea)

Some MRI exams require the use of an intravenously given contrast medium. As with any other intravenously given substance, there is the possibility of a reaction. However, documented reactions to MRI contrast are very rare.

Scheduling, Insurance and Preparation


Contact your personal physician for a referral for this exam. Then call 720-493-3700 to schedule.

Insurance Coverage

MRI scans are usually covered by insurance when ordered by a physician. Check with your insurance company to be sure. Please bring your insurance card with you to your exam.

Conditions to Let Us Know About

In advance of your exam, let your scheduler or technologist know if any of the following circumstances apply to you (or your child):

  • Currently pregnant
  • Previous reaction to MRI contrast medium (gadolinium)
  • Claustrophobia
  • Metallic fragments or splinters in your eye
  • Aneurysm clips in the brain
  • Any metallic, magnetic, mechanical or electronic devices
  • Previous welding or grinding of metal without eye protection
  • Weight over 300 lbs

Preparation Guidelines

The preparation for an MRI depends on the type and purpose of the scan that is ordered. Following is information for some MRI scans. You may receive additional or differing guidelines based on your specific situation. Please contact us at 720-493-3700 if you have any questions.

All MRI Scans
  • Wear comfortable loose fitting clothing.
  • Take all prescribed medications.
  • Bring any related images not done at an Invision Sally Jobe center.
  • Leave valuables, jewelry and watches at home, if possible.
  • Any jewelry that is difficult to remove should be taken off at home prior to the exam.
  • Do not wear eye makeup.
  • Arrive 20 minutes prior to your appointment time to complete necessary paperwork.
Abdominal Everything listed under “All MRI Scans” and:

  • Nothing by mouth for 4 hours before the exam (except small amount of water if needed to take medication).
Pelvic Everything listed under “All MRI Scans” and:

  • Call one hour prior to your appointment time.
With Sedation Everything listed under “All MRI Scans” and:

  • Nothing but clear liquids for 4 hours before the exam.
  • Nothing by mouth for 2 hours before the exam (except small amount of water if needed to take medication).
  • Arrange for someone to drive you to and from the exam.
With Contrast Everything listed under “All MRI Scans” and:

  • Call one hour prior to your appointment time.
Support for Children

If your child is having the exam, it is important that you provide emotional support for him or her before and during the procedure. If your child is old enough to understand, explain the procedure to him or her. Let him or her know that the exam won’t hurt and that he or she will have to lie very still throughout the exam. Also reassure your child that you will be able to remain in the room during the exam.

MRI Scans Requiring Contrast Medium

If your exam was ordered with contrast (gadolinium), scans will be taken both before and after your receive the contrast.

MRI Scans Requiring Sedative

Sedation must be given one hour before the exam is performed. Children under the age of 10 usually require sedation.

Additional Measures for Children

If the patient is a child, two adults may be in the MRI room with him or her.

After the Exam

You can return to your normal activities immediately after your MRI unless you received a sedative. If you were sedated, you cannot drive after the exam.

Exam Results

A board-certified radiologist experienced in the interpretation of MRI scans will analyze the data and results from your exam. If the patient is a child, the exam data will be analyzed by a radiologist experienced in the interpretation of pediatric MRI scans. The results will be reported to your physician. Your physician will pass the results onto you.

During the exam, our radiologists and technologists will be happy to answer questions about the exam itself; however, they will not immediately provide you with the results of your exam.

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