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MRI Scans

Also called: Magnetic resonance imaging, NMR, Nuclear magnetic resonance

Summary

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses a large magnet and radio waves to look at organs and structures inside your body. Health care professionals use MRI scans to diagnose a variety of conditions, from torn ligaments to tumors. MRIs are very useful for examining the brain and spinal cord.

During the scan, you lie on a table that slides inside a tunnel-shaped machine. Doing the scan can take a long time, and you must stay still. The scan is painless. The MRI machine makes a lot of noise. The technician may offer you earplugs.

Before you get a scan, tell your doctor if you

  • Are pregnant
  • Have pieces of metal in your body. You might have metal in your body if you have a shrapnel or bullet injury or if you are a welder.
  • Have metal or electronic devices in your body, such as a cardiac pacemaker or a metal artificial joint

Start Here

  • (International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine)
  • (American Academy of Family Physicians)
  • (Food and Drug Administration)

Related Issues

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Specifics

  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)
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Genetics

  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Library of Medicine)

Videos and Tutorials

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Games

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Statistics and Research

  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institute on Aging)

Clinical Trials

  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health)

Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)

Reference Desk

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Find an Expert

  • (American College of Radiology)
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Children

  • Video (American College of Radiology, Radiological Society of North America)
  • (American Society of Radiologic Technologists) - PDF - In English and Spanish
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Teenagers

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Women

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Patient Handouts

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