Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)



Your doctor has ordered an MRI scan. For this study you will lie on your back and be placed within the scanner opening. The MRI scanner is shaped like a long hollow tube and it can seem cramped within that tube. When it is scanning it makes very loud rapping noises (like a jackhammer) that will require you to wear ear plugs to reduce the sound. You will be in the magnet for about 45 minutes while the scanning is being performed, but each portion of the scan only takes about 5-10 minutes. If you feel too cramped in the magnet, we can reduce the time in the magnet to as short as possible while trying to get the maximum information from your study. During the scanning, however, it is important for you to hold as still as possible because motion makes the scans blurry.

For some patients, a small intravenous catheter will be placed in your arm to administer gadolinium, the MR contrast agent. This contrast dye is extremely safe and most patients have no discomfort or reaction when it goes into the body. If you have ever had an allergic reaction to gadolinium, please tell the receptionist when you arrive at the hospital.

In order to undergo an MRI of the brain or spine you must have no contraindications to having the study (i.e. a pacemaker, defibrillator wires, metal implants, cochlear implants, ferromagnetic surgical clips in the brain, pregnant). If you are claustrophobic, we can give you medications to relax you during your study, but it’s probably best for you to have someone with you to drive you home after the study.

You can eat normally the day of your study and you should take all of your medications as directed by your doctor.

Additional Information

For additional information on the web, we recommend you click on the link below to visit the ACR and RSNA patient information site:


Billing and Insurance

If you are a self-pay patient, a bill will be issued at time of service and mailed to your home.

If you are covered by a commercial health insurance carrier, please bring your cards or proof of coverage should be brought with you the day of your study. We will file your claim for you. Please note that you will be billed for any balance not covered by your plan. If you belong to a Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) or Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) with which we have a contract, you must bring the referral and authorization form for the procedure to be covered.

If your visit is due to an accident (work-related, automobile, etc.), you must provide us with an authorization from the guarantor of your bill.

Note that separate bills are issued by the UVA (to cover facilities, equipment, and support personnel) and the Health Science Foundation (to cover the services of the physician neuroradiologists). So expect to see two bills for your study.