MRI Questions

Why do I need an MRI?

The MRI has become the preferred method for the diagnosis of many types of injuries and conditions. The images provided by the MRI help your doctor determine whether or not something is “normal.” Before the MRI was available, the only alternative to obtain this information was for the physician to perform exploratory surgery.

How does an MRI work?

An MRI uses a magnetic field, radio wave energy, and computer technology to identify what type of tissue is located at a particular point in your body. These points are then mapped onto a two-dimensional image to provide a very precise picture of that cross-section of your body. By taking many cross-sectional pictures, the MRI provides the physician with a 3-D model of the part of your body being examined. In this way your physician and the radiologist can “view” internal details of your body in a painless manner.

Is an MRI painful?

Unless you have a complicating condition, the MRI itself is a painless, state-of-the-art technique for obtaining important diagnostic information. The images are obtained via magnetic fields and radio frequencies, so there is no x-ray radiation exposure involved with the MRI. However, in order for the MRI to work properly, you must remain still during the test. It is possible that you may experience some discomfort from your injury due to your position in the MRI machine. We encourage you to discuss this with your physician or our MRI technologist.

Are there conditions that would keep me from having an MRI?

Yes, there are some conditions that would prevent you from having an MRI.  Please let your doctor and the MRI technologist know if any of the following conditions apply to you:

  • aneurysm clip
  • inner ear implants
  • pacemaker
  • pregnancy

Certain other conditions may prevent you from having an MRI. Your physician and our consulting radiologist will evaluate whether or not you should have the MRI and whether or not any special precaution or assistance is required if you have any of the following:

  • history as a metal worker
  • history of eye exposure to metal shavings
  • claustrophobia
  • severe pain while laying down
  • dental bridge
  • metal implants (artificial knee, hip or shoulder; skull plate; etc.)

Your physician may decide to refer you to a hospital based facility for your MRI if you have a history of heart problems, seizure disorders or other complicating conditions. Patients requiring oxygen are also referred to other facilities.

Do I need any special preparation for the MRI exam?

If you do not have any of the conditions discussed above, there are no special preparations for an MRI exam. However, you should wear something comfortable and totally free from any metal. If you prefer, you can change into shorts or an exam gown after you arrive at our office. Watches, jewelry, hearing aids, dentures, credit cards and any other magnetic media must be removed before entering the MRI room (we recommend that watches, jewelry and other valuables be left at home). Please be sure to follow any additional instructions that your physician may have given you.

What will happen when I arrive?

When you arrive, the MRI technologist will have you remove any metal or magnetic objects from your person or clothing. If you wish, you can change into shorts or an exam gown that we can provide. You will be asked to lie on a table, usually on your back. Because you will need to remain still during the exam, it is important that you let the MRI technologist know if you are experiencing any discomfort or need additional support to remain in the desired position. You will be provided with a headset so that you can communicate with the MRI technologist throughout the exam.  You may also listen to music over the headset. You are welcome to bring your own CD or select from the music we have available. The table will then be slid into the opening.

The total exam will take about 30 to 60 minutes. You will hear a loud chirping and clicking noise during the exam; this is part of the normal operation of the machine. The MRI technologist will let you know as each portion of the exam is completed.

What happens after my MRI exam?

All of our MRI exams are read by one of the radiologists from Western Colorado Radiologic Associates, as well as by your physician in our office.  The radiologist will prepare a written report detailing the results of the exam.  In non-emergency situations, results are normally available within two business days. Depending on what you and your physician have agreed upon, your physician will call you to discuss the results, or one of our staff will call you to make a follow-up appointment to review the results with your physician in our office.

How will I be billed for my MRI exam?

Rocky Mountain Orthopaedic Associates will bill for the technical portion of the MRI. We will bill you, your insurance company or another responsible party depending on the arrangements you have already made with our office. Western Colorado Radiologic Associates will send you a separate bill for reading the exam (usually identified as the “professional component” on your insurance statement). We recommend that you contact Western Colorado Radiologic Associates at 241-9729 regarding payment arrangements prior to your exam.