Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a painless, non-invasive diagnostic procedure that produces images of the body's internal structures by using a powerful magnet, radio frequencies, and an advanced computer. MRI procedures use no radiation and have no side effects.
You will be positioned on a table within a strong magnetic field. Therefore, for your safety and the safety of the MRI staff, you must remove all loose metal. For safety, you will be given a hospital gown and pants to wear during the exam. MRI is a test of choice for women who are pregnant.
- If you have any implanted metal or electronic devices please bring your information card with you to your appointment.
- Metal and electronic items such as zippers, jewelry, watches, hearing aids, pens and belt buckles are prohibited in any MRI room. If possible, leave these items at home, or you will be given a place to store them during the exam.
- You will be given a detailed MRI screening sheet asking safety questions. To save time you may fill this out before your appointment by downloading the form here.
- If you have any concerns or questions as it relates to MRI safety, please ask the MRI technologist before you enter the room.
Scheduling and Pre-Registration
- MRI appointments are scheduled M-F from 6:30am to 8:00pm and Saturdays from 7:30am to 2:30pm. MRI exams are by appointment only. Your referring physician will schedule an appointment for you.
- Please make sure to pre-register for your MRI exam prior to your appointment. To pre-register or reschedule your MRI exam call Radiology Scheduling at 314-362-7111 or 877-992-7111, M-F, from 7:00am to 5:30pm.
- If you have a menstrual cycle, a breast MRI scan can only be performed between days 7 and 10 of your monthly cycle. Please count the first day you start your cycle as day 1. If you will not be in this timeframe at the time of your appointment please reschedule your exam by calling Radiology Scheduling at 314-362-7111 or 877-992-7111, from 7:00am to 5:30pm
Before Your MRI Exam
- Please confirm with your referring physicians office that any precertification required by your insurance has been completed before your MRI appointment.
- Please arrive at least 15 minutes prior to your appointment to allow for registration time.
- If your MRI has been scheduled with anesthesia, please arrive 1 hour prior to your MRI appointment time. You also must have someone to drive you home after the exam.
- Please bring a photo ID (driver’s license or state ID), insurance card(s), a completed Medication Record, and a completed MRI Safety Screening Questionnaire with you to your appointment.
- Take your medication as you normally do, unless your referring physician has told you otherwise.
- You do not need to fast for your MRI exam unless otherwise directed by your referring physician.
- Be prepared to discuss your completed Medication Record, allergies, past medical history and any previous surgeries.
- Women should always inform their physician and the MRI technologist if there is any possibility that they are pregnant.
- Based on age and renal status, patients having an MRI done with contrast require a recent serum creatinine lab test. For your convenience, this test can be done in the MRI department before your MRI exam.
- If you have claustrophobia (fear of enclosed spaces) or anxiety, ask your referring physician for a prescription to relax you before your MRI exam. The MRI Department cannot administer medications. Do not take these prescribed medications until all paperwork has been completed and you are instructed to do so by the MRI staff.
During Your MRI Exam
- The MRI machine looks like a large tube that is open on both ends with an exam table running through the opening. For your MRI exam, an MRI technologist will help you onto the scanner table and make sure you are comfortable. You will need to lay flat for the entire exam. To produce the clearest images, you should remain as still as possible for the duration of the exam. A device called a coil will be placed over the area to be scanned. You will be moved into the scanner until the area of interest is in the center of the scanner. If you are having an MRI of your chest or abdomen, you will need to follow the breathing instructions given by the technologist.
- For larger patients or those that are claustrophobic, a large bore MRI is available. To request a large bore MRI, notify the MRI staff upon arrival of your appointment.
- As the procedure begins, you will hear a loud thumping or humming sound from the MRI machine. You will be provided with hearing protection. Once the exam is ready to begin, the technologist will leave the room and watch you through a glass window. In case of an emergency, you will be given a squeeze ball to notify the technologist that you need assistance. Most MRI exams are completed in 45 minutes, but depending on the exam may take up to 2 hours. For a more exact length of time for your specific exam, please call the MRI department at 314-362-1695.
- Some MRI exams require contrast to make parts of your body display more clearly. For the majority of MRI procedures, contrast is administered by IV. A nurse or technologist will insert an intravenous line into a vein in your hand or arm. Any unusual symptoms you experience after you receive the contrast should be reported to the technologist immediately.
- In rare cases, some people have an allergic reaction to the contrast. By having your MRI procedure at a Barnes-Jewish Hospital Radiology, you are assured of being monitored and given immediate treatment if a reaction occurs.
- Those with known allergies to gadolinium (MRI) contrast need to be especially careful in informing their referring physician’s office before an MRI exam is ordered. Always inform the physician and technologist of any allergies.
- Breast Feeding: There is no evidence to show that the tiny amount of gadolinium contrast found in breast milk would cause toxic effects if ingested by a breast-feeding infant.
After Your MRI Exam
Patients who receive IV or oral contrast for their exam are encouraged to drink plenty of water for 48 hours after their MRI exam to help flush the contrast from their system.
Questions About Your MRI Exam
Please call the MRI department at 314-362-1695 with any questions about your MRI exam.
All radiology exams are read by a physician known as a Radiologist. The radiologists at Barnes-Jewish Hospital are all specialized experts in their field. The radiologist will send the results of your exam to your referring physician’s office within 24 hours. If needed, the radiologists are available to discuss your results with your referring physician. Your physician’s office will then in turn discuss the results with you.
About your bill
You will receive two bills for your exam:
- The hospital bill includes the cost to cover equipment, supplies, and technical personnel. For questions, call Hospital Billing at 314-362-0710.
- The radiologist’s bill covers the professional interpretation of your exam. For questions, call Mallinckrodt Institute (Washington University) Patient Accounts at 314-935-0500.
To save time please download, print, fill out, and bring to your MRI appointment.