What Does an MRI Feel Like? A Patient’s Guide to the First MRI

People sometimes feel a little nervous in the run-up to their first MRI. We get it; the machine looks like something out of a sci-fi film, the science is hard to grasp, and you’re already worried about the condition that sent you to the radiologist in the first place.

One question tends to hover around the edges of the patient’s anxious mind: What will the MRI scan feel like? They know that an MRI involves intense magnetic fields. They know they’ll be blasted with radio waves. That all does sound pretty scary. But for anyone who’s nervous about a first MRI scan, we have some good news. What do MRI scans feel like?

They don’t feel like anything at all. The human body can’t sense the magnetic field or the invisible radio energy that’s washing through them. There is absolutely no pain at all associated with the procedure. You don’t feel the scan do its work.

That said, here’s what you can expect when you walk into the facility for your first-ever MRI scan.

  • Staff at the imaging center will ask you to remove any metal jewelry or bits of clothing.The MRI scanner creates a strong magnetic field, so it’s important to remove any metal jewelry before entering the suite. Even metal components to cloths, like zippers and buttons, are off limits inside the MRI room.

    Just to be safe, staff might ask you to change into a hospital gown for the duration of the scan.

  • If you’re getting a scan with contrast, qualified medical staff will administer the contrast agent.Depending on your scan, that might be a quick injection, an IV drip, or an oral solution. Contrast agent is nothing to worry about, though. In fact, the FDA recently offered full approval for the most common type of contrast used in an MRI.
  • Friendly staff will help you lie down on the sliding table at the end of the MRI machine.Depending on the type of scan, you might be able to bring a blanket, headphones, or ear plugs into the chamber with you. The table will slide gently into the scanner when it’s time to begin the procedure.
  • Most scans only take 25 to 30 minutes.During this time, you will have to stay as still as possible. You’ll have an intercom button so you can speak with your technologist at any time. You might also hear the technologist’s voice, walking you through the procedure.

    The machine sometimes makes loud noises, but ear plugs or headphones can help drown out the sound of the scanner operating. Depending on the type of scan, the technologist might ask you to hold your breath for a little while, not longer than 30 seconds, surely.

  • After the scan, most patients can leave immediately.There are no side effects to an MRI scan without contrast. Even with contrast, side effects are rare. Almost every patient can change back into their clothes and get back to their day the moment the scan ends.

    The exception are patients who require sedation, but that’s a rare occurrence. Chances are, you’ll be on your way before you know it.

If you have any questions about an upcoming MRI scan, or need to have a procedure scheduled, call BestPriceMRI.com at 888-322-7785. Our friendly staff will be glad to answer your questions. Ask them what an MRI feels like, and they’ll tell you the same: It doesn’t feel like anything at all.

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