MRI – is a magnetic resonance imaging. Everyone who is about to have his first MRI has many questions about the procedure. Here you will find some basic information about the MRI, what to expect before, during and at the end of the scanning.


     MRI – is one of the safest procedures for obtaining images of the body, which has been in use for many years. MRI is not based on X-ray irradiation, thus has no harmful effect. This procedure can even be used to diagnose a variety of children diseases.


     MRI provides very detailed images of almost all parts of the body. Typically, MRI is used to see inside the brain and spinal cord, abdomen, pelvic organs and blood vessels, as well as for the diagnosis of joints lesions. To get a clear picture of structures inside the body MRI technology involves the use of a magnet and radio waves. Physical characteristics of the procedure are based on the fact that the human body contains a lot of water, which is exactly what MRI detects (and shows), and more specifically – the hydrogen atoms, that together with the oxygen molecule form the chemical formula of water (H2О). The magnet builds all of the hydrogen atoms in the body in the direction of the magnetic field and very short radio wave impulses temporarily change this trend. After turning off the radio waves hydrogen atoms return to their previous position, thus sending small signals that are captured by a coil (radio antenna). This all is absolutely painless, the patient does not feel anything. Hydrogen atoms of different parts of different organs and tissues are aligned with different speeds; this gives lighter and darker shades on the MRI -picture, just as in usual photography.


   The MRI scanner (device) looks like a big box with a hole in it, or rather a short tunnel, open from the front and the rear; it also has a couch that can "slide" inside. During the study the couch moves into the scanner head or feet forward, depending on what part of the body should be investigated. The apparatus does not have moving parts, but the magnets inside the scanner produce loud noise (like clicking) when they quickly turn on and off (a phenomenon inherent in the study process and is absolutely normal; it does not affect the hearing), indicating the normal functioning rhythm of the apparatus. Around the body part that needs to be explored the operator places a special plastic device (coil – a special radio antenna), which is needed to produce an image. In some cases, when prescribed by the doctor, during the scan a contrast agent is administered intravenously to improve image quality. It makes the picture of the structures brighter and much more detailed, which helps diagnose faster and more accurately. Before examining, a very thin, flexible plastic tube is introduced in a vein in a particular area on the patient`s arm. At a certain point during the study the contrast agent is administered through the tube. At this moment, the patient may receive a cold sensation in the arm, but this is normal and will not last long. Scanning is performed by an MRI specialist who directs the work of the scanner on the computer and is in the other room, protected from the magnetic field. At any time of the study the patient can talk to the specialist through the intercom system.

RIGHTS AND OBLIGATIONS OF THE PATIENT «before», «during» and «after» MRI

     The patient has the right to ask questions before the start and after the end of the study. The patient has the right to know what is happening to him. All the information accumulated during the scan, gets into a computer. After scanning, the computer performs some complex mathematical calculations to create a detailed image. Then the images are displayed on the computer screen, like pictures taken with a digital camera. MRI images should be analyzed by a radiologist (a doctor who specializes in MRI), which is why the results are not available immediately at the end of the study. The radiologist will send a copy of the results to the doctor who ordered the study or the patient himself can take the results and give to his doctor. Typically, before the MRI studies, no special preparation is needed. Before an MRI, you can eat and drink as usual. In exceptional cases, where a study with use of contrast agents or sedation (special sedatives) is planned, the MRI operator will warn the patient about preparation for scanning. During the study, you can stay in your own clothes if they are comfortable and have no metal fasteners and buttons. But depending on what part of the body examined, the patient may be asked to change into special clothing. Since metal can affect the magnet, it is important that the patient doesn`t bring any metal objects as they can spoil the image or deteriorate under the action of the equipment.

You must tell the doctor:

  • if you have contraindications;
  • if you have metal implants or elements in your body;
  • presence of tattoos (they can get hot);
  • if you have dental braces;
  • if you wear pain-relieving patches (they may contain metal);
  • if you use a hearing aid (it can issue background noise);
  • if you are pregnant.

Pregnancy is not a contraindication to MRI, but the effect that magnetic field has on the fetus is not clear. Some experts do not recommend to carry out an MRI in the first 3 months of pregnancy.

Prior to the study:

  • remove metal and electronic items, watches, belts, jewelry, hairpins, hair clips, wigs, dentures, hearing aids;
  • take credit cards out of the pockets;
  • you can continue medication (if you are assigned to any);
  • a moderate meal is recommended.

The MRI is contraindicated if you have an implanted pacemaker (strong magnetic field may interfere with its functioning).

St Luke's Hospital`s MRI department is open:

Monday – Saturday — 8 am – 5 pm

day off — Sunday

Phone: +38-0522-33-20-35,  +38-050-487-54-40.