Adult Inpatient Guide to
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)/
Magnetic Resonance Angiography (MRA)/
Magnetic Resonance Venography (MRV)
Head and Neck
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 which is 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 for this test.
Is it safe for you to have MRI/MRA/MRV?
Yes, for most patients the scans are safe. To determine if the scan is safe or if special
arrangements need to be made to assure your safety you must answer several 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
▪ Artificial heart valve
▪ Implanted defibrillator
▪ Brain aneurysm clips
▪ Medication patches
▪ Implantable pump
▪ Neurostimulator or TENS
▪ Eye or ear implant
▪ Hearing aids
▪ Metallic implant
▪ Artificial body parts
▪ Stent, coil, filter
▪ Breast or penile
▪ Implanted shunt
Also, please tell the staff if you have
▪ Any problems with claustrophobia (fear of small, enclosed spaces)? If you do, please talk with
your doctor who ordered the MRI/MRA. Your doctor will be able to discuss whether medicine can
be ordered to help you with the test.
▪ Problems lying on your back and holding still for 30-60 minutes.
▪ Ever done metal grinding/welding as work or a hobby
▪ Ever seen a doctor about metal in your eyes
▪ 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 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.
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/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 portion
of the scan right away.
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#7415