What is it?

Magnetic Resonance is an imaging technique that can take images of the body without using X-ray radiation. This test is also known as MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) or NMR.

The radiologist uses an MR machine to produce strong magnetic and radio waves. This allows the soft tissue to visualise various parts of the body and to test brain tissue, intervertebral discs, tendons, muscles and blood vessels. This is a safe procedure that is performed painlessly.

Examples

MR of the brain, cervical, dorsal and lumbar spinal column; MR of the abdomen (liver, pancreas, kidneys, spleen), MR mammography, MR of the rectum, MR of the prostate, MR of the knee, MR of the shoulder, MR of the foot and ankle, MR of the hips, MR angiogram of the renal vessels, MR angiogram of the lower extremities, MR angiogram of the circle of Willis, etcetera.

Test procedure

Things to think about

  • Be sure to let the nurse know if:
    • you are pregnant (or suspect you may be) The test will not be performed during the first 12 weeks
    • if there are metal devices in the body (e.g. pacemaker, metal shards, vessel clips, etcetera)
    • if you have had a recent operation on your head, heart or blood vessels
    • if you suffer from claustrophobia or if you are afraid of tight spaces

Did you know that mascara sometimes contains iron particles? For this reason, it is better to not wear mascara on the day of the test.

  • Do not bring any metal or magnetic objects (e.g. loose change, keys, mobile phone, bank card, hearing aids, etcetera) into the MRI scan room.
  • Keep underwear and a T-shirt on (no bra or trousers with a zipper, etcetera).
  • Do not wear jewellery, piercings, glasses, hair pins, etcetera.
  • You may eat and drink normally before the test and you make take your regular medications.

Procedure

  • You will be asked to lay down on the examination table. Lie as comfortably as possible in a position you will be able to maintain for a long time. If you move, the images may be blurry. If that is the case, they will not be usable. The nurse will help you find the best position.
  • In a number of cases, the radiologist or nurse will administer IV contrast in your arm. This fluid will make sure that the organs and abnormalities show up better on the images. The contrast has few or no abnormalities. Try to stay as still as possible while the contrast is administered.
  • The nurse will then move the table into the MR tunnel. This tunnel is open at both ends. There is a microphone and a loudspeaker at the head of the tunnel. You are in direct contact with the nurse who can also see you through a window. In addition, you will be given a squeeze ball to hold in your hand. You may squeeze this at any time that you need help.
  • You will hear a loud banging sound while the images are taken. You may always ask for earplugs and headphones to dampen the sound. If the banging noise ends, this means the imaging is finished. A test consists of multiple images. The shortest lasts one minutes. The longest takes up to ten minutes. The radiologist decides whether the test has the information required. Somtimes additional series are needed.

How long does the test take?

An MR test usually lasts 20 to 30 minutes, but it can take up to an hour.

What will you feel or experience?

The procedure is painless. Will you be given contrast agent? If so, then you will feel a poke similar to a blood draw.

After the test

After the test, you will be able to get dressed in the dressing room. You will be able to leave the Radiology Department immediately afterwards.

Results

The nurse cannot given you the results immediagely afterwards. He or she must first interpret and process the large quantity of images. Your attending physician will give you the results afterwards. This usually takes two working days. The physician will discuss the report with you.

Centres and specialist areas

Radiology

Latest publication date: 05/02/2021
Supervising author: Dr Schoofs Christophe