MRI Patient Prep

What is MRI?

MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), a painless diagnostic study that produces precise images of the body’s internal organs without the use of x-rays and radiation. MRI generates high-resolution images that appear as a slice of the body’s anatomy. The images are produced using a large magnet, radio frequencies and a computer. The computer processes these signals to produce highly detailed images of your anatomy. MRI is also capable of producing these images in an infinite number of projections throughout the body. These images are useful in the early discovery and treatment of many conditions and diseases.

What Is MRA?

Magnetic Resonance Angiography (MRA) uses the MRI scanner to image blood vessels of any body part, most commonly those in the head, neck, abdomen and lower extremities. Unlike conventional angiography, MRA does not require an intra-arterial injection with x-ray and radiation.

What Happens During The MRI Exam?

A Washington Radiology registered technologist will position you on a padded scanner bed, which is very similar to an examination table. The technologist will properly position the part of your body to be scanned and make sure you are relaxed and comfortable. For some studies, our technologist will provide you with music if you’d like. You will then be moved into the scanner. As the equipment scans you will hear noises from the magnet, which are peculiar but very normal. You will not see very much. You may feel a slight vibration or warmth (some patients fall asleep during their MRI scan). All that is required of you is to be as still as possible during the exam. Based on the type of MRI you are having and the number of images required, each series of scans will last 20-45 minutes.

What Are The Common Uses Of MRI?

With MRI, it is possible to see with unparalleled clarity the smallest structures in the body that other imaging procedures cannot match. For these reasons, examination of the brain, nerves, spinal cord, musculoskeletal areas (bones and joints), breasts, abdominal and pelvic organs make up the majority of MRI scans.

Is MRI Safe?

Because MRI uses no x-rays, it presents no apparent risk to adults and children. If you are pregnant or nursing you should consult your physician before having an MRI scan.

Who Performs An MRI?

A registered MRI technologist will assist you in preparing for the exam and positioning you on the table.The exam will be conducted based on the direction from a board-certified radiologist (a physician who specializes in Medical Imaging) who also sub-specializes in MRI. Washington Radiology physicians who interpret MRI images have received specialized training in MRI and have served as faculty or Fellows in major medical universities.

What’s The Difference Between An MRI And A CAT Scan?

MRI does not use x-rays like a CT Scan (Computed Tomography or CAT Scan).With a CT, x-rays are sent through the body, and the computer then constructs the information and creates images of the body. In comparison, MRI involves sending electromagnetic waves, such as those used in radio transmission, in a safe magnetic environment.The body then sends out tiny radio waves back to a computer recorder.The different cells in the body can then create their own signal with each molecule having its own radio frequency.The computer can tell the minuscule differences between the wavelengths of the radio waves and using that information, it creates images of the body.

Because MRI and CT use entirely different techniques for mapping the body, the images show different characteristics of the body's anatomy and the conditions or diseases that affect them.

How Will I Learn About The Results Of My MRI Scan?

At Washington Radiology, a board-certified radiologist (a physician who specializes in Medical Imaging) will interpret your scan promptly. He/she will interpret the findings and a report will be sent to your physician who requested the MRI.Your physician will then share the results of the study with you.

Can Anyone Have An MRI?

There are some conditions that are not conducive to high-field MRI. Our staff will speak with you when you make an appointment and make sure you do not have any of these conditions, which may include:

  • History of a heart pacemaker
  • History of artificial heart valve
  • Severe claustrophobia

WRA MRI Centers

Washington, DC

University Medical Building
2141 K Street, NW Suites 200 & 900
Washington, DC 20037
202-223-9722

Suburban Maryland

Chase Tower
4445 Willard Avenue
Suite 200
Chevy Chase, Maryland 20815
301-654-4242

Potomac, MD

12505 Park Potomac Avenue
Ground Floor (Street Level) - Suite 120
Potomac, MD 20854
Phone: (240) 223-4700
Fax: (240) 223-4701
Hours: 8:00 am - 5:00 pm

Northern Virginia

WRA’s New MRI Center
3022 Williams Drive
Suites 200 & 204
Fairfax,Virginia 22031
703-698-8800

Scheduling Appointments

Washington Radiology provides imaging services for patients upon referral from a physician. Patients are seen by appointment. However, emergencies do occur and we make every attempt to accommodate these cases. To schedule your next MRI at Washington Radiology, please call one of the clinical offices listed above.