Preparing for Your MRI

How to prepare for your scan

In many cases, there is no preparation required for an MRI. Most patients may take their normal medications and have food and fluids as usual unless given special instructions. Some MRI scans require intravenous or oral contrast material to help evaluate areas of the body under examination. If a contrast material is required, you may be asked to not eat or drink for several hours before your scan.

During an MRI, you will lie on a table that slowly moves into the center of a cylindrical chamber. Once inside the chamber, you will be asked to remain still as the MRI scans your body. While this is a painless procedure, the magnetic resonance imaging machine will make a hammering sound that can be distracting. Often, music may be made available to minimize the sound.

If you are concerned about being confined to small space, inform your doctor. A mild sedative may be available during the exam.

An MRI usually takes approximately 20 to 60 minutes to complete, but some scans can take longer. An MRI can be completed as an outpatient procedure.