Adult Outpatient Guide to
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
Magnetic Resonance Angiography (MRA)
Magnetic Resonance Venography (MRV)
of the Head and Neck
You are scheduled to have a MRI/MRA/MRV
600 Highland Ave
Take the Atrium elevators to 3rd floor and
check in at the G3/3 reception desk
Research Park Clinic
621 Science Drive
Madison, WI 53711
Check in at 2nd Floor Radiology reception desk
The phone number to cancel your appointment and/or reschedule is 608-263-XRAY (9729)
ext. 2 for MRI. If you cancel your appointment, please be sure to call the ordering clinic
staff as well.
What is MRI?
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is an imaging technique that uses a strong magnet, radio
signal, and a computer to produce pictures of the inside of your brain and neck with great detail.
The scans are painless and use no x-ray. The pictures taken help the doctor to see both healthy
and diseased tissue. You may need to hold your breath for short periods of time during the scan.
What is MRA?
Magnetic Resonance Angiography (MRA) is a type of MRI scan that looks at the flow of blood
vessels that feed your brain. You may receive contrast to help see the images better. The
contrast is given through a small catheter in the vein of your arm. It will be removed before you
What is MRV?
Magnetic Resonance Venography (MRV) is a type of MRI scan that looks at blood vessels and
structures that return blood to the heart. You may receive contrast to help see the images better.
The contrast is given through a small catheter in the vein of your arm. It will be removed before
you go home.
Is it safe for me to have MRI/MRA/MRV?
Yes for most patients the scans are safe. To decide if the scan is safe or if special
arrangements need to be made to assure your safety, you must answer a few screening
questions. It is vital that you answer these questions in an open and honest manner and to the
best of your knowledge.
Please tell the MRI staff in advance if you have any of these items in your body.
▪ Artificial heart valve
▪ Implanted defibrillator
▪ Brain aneurysm clips
▪ Medicine patches
▪ Implantable pump
▪ Neurostimulator or TENS
▪ Eye or ear implant
▪ Hearing aids
▪ Metallic implant
▪ Artificial body parts
▪ Stent, coil, filter
▪ Breast or penile implants
▪ Implanted shunt
If you have any of the above items in your body please tell the staff:
▪ The date the device was placed.
▪ The hospital and doctor who placed it.
▪ The make or model number of the device (many times patients will have cards that have the
model number and manufacturer’s name to carry in their wallets after having placement). If
you do not have a card, we can often get this from the hospital where it was done.
Tell the staff
▪ If you have any problems with claustrophobia (fear of small, enclosed spaces). If you do,
talk with your doctor who ordered the MRI/MRA/MRV. Your doctor will be able to discuss
whether medicine can be ordered to help you with the test. If you are taking something to
relax you for this test, you will need to have a responsible adult drive you home after
▪ If you have any problems lying on your back and holding still for 30-60 minutes.
▪ If you have ever done metal grinding or welding as work or a hobby
▪ If you have ever seen a doctor about metal in your eyes
▪ If you have any metal in your body from an accident, gunshot, or military service wound.
▪ If you are pregnant. To date, there has been no indication that the use of MRI while
pregnant has been harmful. But there have not been many studies to research the safety of
MRI exams in pregnant patients. You, your doctor, and a radiologist need to discuss whether
or not MRI is the best option at this time. If it is felt that this test is vital for your care, you
will need to sign a consent form before the scan.
▪ If you receive contrast dye and are breastfeeding you will need to pump your breast milk
for 24 hours after the MRI and discard the breast milk if you receive IV contrast.
Can I Eat Before My MRI?
Talk with your regular doctor. It is best not to eat or drink 2 hours before the scan. If you
receive dye, it may make you feel nauseous. Please take your regularly scheduled medicines
with a sip of water before you arrive in MRI.
If you have diabetes and will not be able to eat for 4 hours, discuss with your doctor any
changes that need to be made to your insulin or pills. When setting up the appointment, tell the
scheduler that you have diabetes so that we may schedule you early in the morning.
How to Prepare For a Scan
You should arrive about 15 – 30 minutes before your scheduled scan. This will allow time for
the staff to greet you and have you change into a gown. For some scans, we may need to inject
contrast dye to get the best image. The contrast dye is given through a small catheter in the vein
of your arm (IV). The catheter is removed before you go home.
▪ Do not wear any jewelry (wedding rings are okay). Watches and other jewelry may need
to be removed. To avoid loss of these items please leave them at home.
▪ Do not wear mascara or other makeup that glitters. This can affect the quality of your
▪ Do not wear hair clips or bobby pins
▪ Do not apply any lotions, oils, or fragrances to your skin on the day of your scan.
During Your Scan
You will be brought into the scan room, and placed on a padded, moving table, which glides into
the large magnet. The magnet is round and open at both ends. Your upper body will be in the
magnet. The inner part of the magnet is lighted and there is good air flow for your comfort.
Try to relax; close your eyes and focus on your breathing.
You will hear a loud tapping or banging noise during the scanning process. You will be given
ear plugs to lessen this noise during your scan. A call light will be given to you. The
technologist will be able to see and hear you at all times during the scan.
The time for the entire scan ranges from 30 to 90 minutes. To get the best pictures of your
body, you must lie very still during the scanning periods. The tech will let you know when
you need to hold absolutely still, and for how long.
After Your Scan
When your scan is done, we will review the image. If an image is not clear, we will repeat that
part of the scan right away.
If you have any questions or concerns, please call your referring doctor or clinic.
The Spanish version of this Health Facts for You is 6920
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you
have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This
is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each
person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using
this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright © 10/2015 University of Wisconsin Hospitals
and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#6912