What is a MRI Scan?
MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging. MRI uses a strong magnetic field
and radio waves to produce high-resolution images of the brain, spine,
joints, internal organs and other parts of the body. MRI helps radiologists
in making an accurate diagnosis as well as assessing treatment already
in progress. At Torrance Memorial Medical Center we have invested in some
of the most technologically-advanced and powerful MRI scanners available today.
Pre-Screening Before Your MRI
Because of the strong magnetic field used by MRI, patients must fill out a
screening form before having an MRI exam. The screening is to identify potential risks
that may make MRI unsafe or may interfere with image quality. Patients
who have implanted medical devices, including heart pacemakers or defibrillators,
brain aneurysm clips or cochlear implants may not be eligible for MRI.
If you are uncomfortable in an enclosed space, you'll be glad to know
that Torrance Memorial Medical Center provides the option of having your
MRI exam done on one of our Large Bore MRI Scanners. This type of MRI
scanner is more comfortable for patients with claustrophobia because it
is shorter and has a larger opening. For these reasons open MRI can also
be a good option for people who are overweight, obese or otherwise larger
than usual. If you prefer this, please let the scheduling department know
so they can accommodate you.
Preparing for Your MRI
For most MRI scans you may eat and drink as usual.
Sometimes, however, you may receive special instructions. Some MRI scans
require that you fast for up to eight hours prior to your appointment.
(If you need to take medications, you may do so with a small amount of
water – ask your doctor for specific advice.) Some patients need
to drink an oral contrast agent in preparation for their MRI.
How Long Will the Exam Take?
The length of time an MRI takes depends on the area of the body being studied.
Generally speaking, most MRI scans take between 20 minutes and one hour.
Multiple pictures are usually needed to complete an MRI exam. Each set
of pictures can take anywhere from a few seconds to fifteen minutes. Our
staff will do their best to complete your exam successfully and efficiently
with minimal stress. You can help ensure your scan is completed quickly
by remaining as still as possible, especially when you hear the scanner
taking the images.
Typical exam times are as follow:
|Brain with Contrast
What Happens During an MRI Scan?
For certain MRI exams, a contrast agent ("dye") will be injected
into a vein to highlight certain organs or tissues in your body. This
is typically done in the middle of the exam.
The MRI scanner is a large "donut-shaped" machine that is open
on both ends. You will be asked to lie on the table. Depending on the
exam you need, your MRI technician may instruct you to stay in a particular
position. The table will slide into the machine until the part of your
body to be imaged is in the center.
MRI equipment makes loud "knocking" noises while taking pictures,
due to the magnetic fields used to generate the images. Earplugs or headphones
will be provided for your protection and comfort. Music may also be available
It is important to be very still during the scan, as movement creates blurry
images. Although you will be alone in the MRI scanner, you will be able
to communicate with the MRI technologist through a special speaker inside
After Your MRI
Most patients having MRI scans on an outpatient basis are able to resume
all regular daily routines and activities immediately afterward. If you
took medication to relax during the scan, you'll need to have an adult
accompany you home. If you were given IV contrast, you'll need to
drink extra fluids afterwards to flush it out of your body.
How Will You Learn About Your Results?
The technologist will not give you the test results directly, as the images
still need to be reviewed by a radiologist. After reviewing the study,
the radiologist will send an official report to your physician, who can
then discuss the results with you.
For More Information
For more information on these types of exams please visit
Schedule an Appointment
We make it easy to schedule an imaging appointment.