Making Decisions About Home Care

3 Things You Should Know Before You Get Your First MRI

by Mae Ferguson

Magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI for short, is a type of scan that can reveal a lot about the inside of a body. Whether your doctor wants a look at your nerves, spine, or brain, an MRI imaging can help show your doctor what's going on inside. However, if you've never had an MRI before, there are a few things that you might not expect that you should know about MRI scans.


While some types of imaging tests like x-rays are nearly completely silent, MRIs are notoriously noisy. The inside of the machine makes loud banging noises during the duration of the test. This is completely normal and necessary for the magnetic mechanisms inside of the test to function properly.

In most cases, you are welcome to bring your own earplugs and to wear them while you have your test performed. Many MRI technicians will also offer a fresh pair of earplugs if you don't have your own in order to block out the worst of the noise.


If you've ever had any kind of imaging test, you probably know how important it is to hold still. The same is true of MRI scans, but you might feel a bit overwhelmed if you've learned that your test could run for ten, twenty, or even thirty minutes, as that's a very long time to hold still.

The good news is, while it's still necessary for you to hold still while the tests are being performed, you don't have to actually hold still that entire time. The technician will talk to you while the images are being taken, and you'll be able to tell when it's happening due to the aforementioned noise. When the noise stops, the technician will give you a small break before the next scan begins. During this time, you'll be able to adjust your limbs and stretch slightly if you're uncomfortable, so you don't have to be entirely still during the full exam.

No Radiation

Lastly, you probably already know that x-rays use radiation, as do CT scans. If you're wary of excessive doses of radiation, you'll be pleased to know that standard MRIs do not use radiation at all to perform their imaging tests.

MRIs rely entirely on magnetic waves in order to produce the images inside your body. This is why it's necessary for you to remove all jewelry and metal objects before the test is performed. Keep in mind that if your doctor chooses for you to have an MRI with contrast, a small amount of radioactive dye will be injected into your bloodstream for the test. However, all standard MRIs without contrast don't use any radioactive substances at all, so you can rest easy in that case.

MRIs are incredibly useful diagnostic tools for doctors to have at their disposal. With these three tips, you'll be a little more prepared for your first MRI. If you have further questions, don't be afraid to ask your doctor or your MRI technician before the scan begins.