shutterstock_2323721305_1.jpegis a vital tool in modern medical diagnostics that creates detailed images of your body's internal structures. It uses strong magnetic fields and radio waves, allowing physicians to diagnose and monitor various health conditions, from tumors to joint abnormalities, with precision.

At Smart Scan Medical Imaging, we understand that preparing for an MRI can be overwhelming, and we want to ensure that you have a positive experience. Our team of experts is dedicated to providing you with the highest quality care and making your scan as comfortable as possible. If you're ready for a seamless and professional experience, schedule your  MRI scan with us today.

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If you have never had an MRI before, it is natural to feel anxious or nervous about the procedure. Keep on reading to learn more about how to prepare for your first MRI scan with ease.

What is an MRI?

An MRI is a non-invasive medical imaging technique used to produce detailed images of the internal structures of the body. Unlike X-rays or CT scans, MRIs do not use ionizing radiation. Instead, they employ powerful magnetic fields and radiofrequency pulses to create high-resolution images of organs, tissues, and bones. This technology is particularly useful for diagnosing and monitoring a wide range of conditions, including brain tumors, spinal cord injuries, joint abnormalities, and vascular diseases.

At Smart Scan, we offer various types of MRI to cater to your specific needs and medical concerns, such as brain MRI, spine MRI, and orthopedic MRI. Our GE Voyager 1.5T wide-bore MRI scanner and team of experts ensure accurate and timely results for a more effective treatment plan. 

Steps to Prepare for a Non-contrast MRI

Non-contrast MRIs, which constitute approximately 85% of all MRI scans, are straightforward and require minimal preparation. Here are some simple steps to ensure you are ready for your scan:

1. What to Wear

Choose comfortable, loose-fitting clothing without any metal parts. Metal can interfere with the MRI images, so avoid wearing items with zippers, snaps, or metallic threads. In many cases, you may be asked to change into a hospital gown.

2. Dietary Restrictions or Recommendations

For most non-contrast MRI exams, there are no specific dietary restrictions. You can eat and drink as usual before your appointment. However, certain scans, like those that involve the abdomen or gastrointestinal tract, may require an empty stomach. 

If you receive any special instructions from your physician, be sure to follow them accordingly.

3. Personal Items to Bring or Leave at Home

Items to Bring

  • Your identification and insurance documents.
  • Any referral or prescription paperwork from your doctor.

Items to Remove

  • All metallic objects, including jewelry, hairpins, eyeglasses, body piercings, belts with metal buckles, hearing aids, and dentures.
  • Electronic devices such as cell phones, smartwatches, and credit cards, as can be damaged by the MRI's magnetic field.

4. Tips for Ensuring Comfort During the Scan

  • Arrive Early: Arriving at least 15 minutes before your scheduled appointment can help ensure you have time to complete any necessary paperwork.
  • Stay Still: The key to obtaining clear images is to remain as still as possible during the scan. Comfortable positioning and the use of cushions or pads can help with this.
  • Use the Call Button: If you feel uncomfortable at any point during the scan, you can communicate with the technician via the call button provided.
  • Use Earplugs or Headphones: MRI machines make loud noises, such as thumping or tapping, during the scan. We provide earplugs and noise-canceling headphones so you can listen to music during your exam.
  • Relaxation Techniques: Practice deep breathing or visualization techniques to help stay calm and relaxed.
  • Bring a Companion: Sometimes, having a friend or family member can make the experience less intimidating. While they won't be able to join you in the MRI room, their presence in the waiting area might provide comfort.

Steps to Prepare for a Contrast-Enhanced MRI

An  MRI exam with contrast involves two rounds of scans: the first without the contrast agent and the second after the contrast agent has been administered via an IV. In other words, preparing for a scan with contrast means not only following the above steps but also a few additional steps. 

Here's a comprehensive guide to help you prepare:

1. What to Expect with the Gadolinium-Based Contrast Agent

Gadolinium-based contrast agents are used for contrast-enhanced MRIs because they are safe, non-toxic, and easily eliminated from the body. A contrast scan helps the radiologist detect small differences in the tissues of the body that may not be visible otherwise, such as differences between healthy tissue and cancerous tissue. 

After the first round of scans, the contrast agent is typically injected into a vein in your arm. This allows your radiologist to see if the contrast has caused any unusual changes in the resulting images.

2. Pre-Scan Instructions

Fasting Requirements

Depending on the type of MRI scan and your medical history, we may advise you to fast before the procedure. Generally, a fasting period of 4 hours is recommended, particularly for abdominal or gastrointestinal MRIs. Fasting helps minimize artifacts from undigested food or liquids, resulting in clearer and more accurate images.

Allergies and Previous Reactions

Inform our team beforehand if you have a history of allergies, especially to contrast agents. We may use alternative methods, such as antihistamines or steroids, to help prevent an allergic reaction.

3. Post-Scan Considerations and Care

After the MRI scan with contrast, you may be asked to wait briefly to ensure there are no immediate reactions to the contrast agent. Most people experience no side effects, but it is essential to inform the technician if you feel unwell.


You are encouraged to drink a normal amount of fluid to help flush the contrast agent from your body. 

Resuming Normal Activity

In most cases, you can resume your normal activities immediately after the scan unless advised otherwise by your physician. Most allergic or adverse reactions will come within 20 minutes of the contrast injection. If you experience any unusual symptoms or allergic reactions, contact your healthcare provider promptly.

What to Expect During the Scan

MRI machines are large, cylindrical devices that use powerful magnets and radio waves to generate detailed images of the body's internal structures. When you enter the MRI room, you'll notice the machine's wide, tube-like appearance. At Smart Scan, we use a GE Voyager 1.5T wide-bore MRI scanner, which is known for its advanced technology, shorter scan time, and increased patient comfort.

Scanning Process for MRI without Contrast

MRI without contrast is a relatively simple and painless procedure. The process involves the following steps:

  1. Preparation: After changing into a hospital gown, you'll be asked to lie down on the scanner's movable table.
  2. Comfort: Our staff will provide you with headphones or earplugs for your comfort.
  3. Scanning: The table will then slide into the machine where the imaging takes place.
  4. Noise: During the scan, you’ll hear loud noises like thumping and tapping. These sounds are normal and indicate that the imaging is in progress.
  5. Breath Control: At times, you may be asked to hold your breath briefly to minimize movement and ensure the clarity of the images.

Scanning Process for Contrast-Enhanced MRI

If your doctor has ordered an MRI with contrast, the process will be slightly different. The steps may include:

  1. Initial Scans: The procedure begins with a series of scans without the contrast agent to capture baseline images.
  2. Contrast Injection: You will then be administered the contrast dye through an intravenous (IV) injection. This involves a small needle placed in a vein, usually in your arm. The injection process is quick and typically only causes minor discomfort.
  3. Second Round of Scans: After the contrast agent has been given time to circulate through your body, another round of scans will be performed. This helps to highlight specific areas of interest by increasing the visibility of blood vessels, tissues, and other structures.

How Long Does an MRI Scan Take?

The duration of an MRI scan varies depending on the type of scan, areas being imaged, and individual factors such as patient movement or the need for additional images. Typically, most MRI scans take between 15 to 45 minutes.

If you are undergoing an MRI with contrast, the procedure may take a bit longer due to the additional series of images needed. Our experts will keep you informed about the progress and let you know when the scan is complete.

Tips for Reducing Anxiety

For many, the prospect of undergoing an MRI can be a source of anxiety. Here are some practical tips and strategies to help you feel more comfortable and relaxed before and during your MRI:

  • Educate Yourself: Knowledge is power. Understanding what to expect during the MRI procedure can significantly reduce anxiety. Feel free to ask our experts any questions you may have prior to the scan.
  • Practice Relaxation Techniques: Deep breathing exercises, meditation, or progressive muscle relaxation can help calm your mind and body.
  • Visualization Techniques: Imagine yourself in a serene place, such as a beach or a garden, to distract your mind from the surroundings of the MRI machine.
  • Cognitive Behavioural Techniques: Practice reframing negative thoughts. Whenever a fearful thought arises, replace it with a positive one. For example, remind yourself that the MRI is a step towards improved health.
  • Listen to Music: Our facilities offer headphones to listen to music or podcasts during the scan. Choose something soothing and enjoyable to focus on.
  • Communicate with our Experts: Don't hesitate to ask questions or express your concerns before the scan begins. A friendly conversation with our experts can help create a more comfortable and trusting environment. The exam can be paused and you can get out of the scanner at any time if you needed.. 

After the Scan: Results, Follow-up, and Next Steps

Once your MRI is complete, it typically takes just a couple of hours for our expert radiologists to review the images and prepare a detailed report. This report will immediately be sent to your doctor, who will then communicate the results to you when they are available or at a follow-up visit. It’s important to attend any follow-up appointments your doctor schedules, as these meetings allow for discussion of the MRI findings and any recommended treatment plans.

If you have any questions or concerns after your scan, do not hesitate to contact Smart Scan. Our team is here to provide support and ensure that you have a clear understanding of your results and the next steps in your healthcare journey.

Why Choose Smart Scan for Your MRI Needs?

When you choose Smart Scan for your MRI, you're choosing a provider that goes above and beyond to ensure your comfort and convenience. Here are some unique benefits that set us apart:

  • A Quieter MRI Experience: Our state-of-the-art GE Voyager 1.5T wide-bore MRI scanner is designed to minimize noise, providing a quieter and more relaxing experience during your scan.
  • Shorter Exams: With our advanced technology, we can perform MRI scans more efficiently, meaning shorter exam times without compromising the quality of the images.
  • Next Day Appointments: We understand that timely diagnostics are crucial. That's why we offer next day appointments to accommodate your schedule and ensure you receive prompt care.
  • Drinks and Snacks: Patient comfort is our priority. We provide a selection of drinks and snacks to keep you comfortable and at ease before and after your exam.
  • Super Convenient Parking: Our facility features parking that is less than 100 steps from your car to the scanner, making it easy and stress-free to access our services.

Experience Stress-Free MRI Scans with Smart Scan!

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a powerful diagnostic tool that provides detailed images of the body's internal structures, aiding in the accurate diagnosis and treatment of various medical conditions. Whether it involves a  non-contrast or contrast-enhanced scan, understanding the process and what to expect can greatly alleviate any anxieties associated with undergoing an MRI.

At Smart Scan, we are committed to  providing a comfortable and efficient MRI experience with our state-of-the-art GE Voyager 1.5T wide-bore MRI scanner. Our dedicated team of professionals ensures that each patient receives personalized care, from the moment you arrive until your results are reviewed. We strive to make the procedure as seamless and stress-free as possible, utilizing advanced technology to deliver precise and swift imaging results.

Ready to experience a stress-free MRI scan? Schedule your appointment with Smart Scan today. Our friendly staff is ready to assist you throughout your healthcare journey, ensuring you receive top-quality diagnostic imaging and care.

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