MRI Scanning (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)
What is an MRI Exam?
Berkshire Health Systems offers a full range of MRI exams ulitlizing the latest technology and highly trained technologists and radiologists. MRI imaging uses a magnetic field, radiofrequency waves and a very specialized computer to create very detailed images of organs, muscles, nerves, soft tissue and bones within your body. There is no radiation involved with MRIs.
All MRIs are very loud due to the inherent nature of the machine. Your hearing will be protected during the examination. We will provide music or ear plugs for you.
An MRA is just another type of MRI exam. It is a two or three dimensional image of the vessels in your body. This technology provides information to help you and your doctor make better decisions about your medical care. Generally most MRI exams take approximately 30-45 minutes and are performed by licensed Radiologic Technologists. Board certified radiologists will review and interpret your MRI.
You will be asked to fill out a Safety Screening Questionnaire every time you have an MRI exam (all MRI forms are linked below). The MRI staff will review this with you to determine if an MRI is safe for you. More information may be required before having an MRI for some implants before we can proceed.
Most surgical implants such as joint replacements, sutures, clips, etc. are fine. The MRI staff will determine on an individual basis if there are any safety concerns for you.
If you have a pacemaker or cardiac defibrillator you cannot have an MRI. Please contact your healthcare provider.
Preparation for an MRI
The only MRI examination that you will need to fast for is an MRCP exam. This is an MRI of the bile and pancreatic ducts (cholangiopancreatogram). Your doctor will give you orders to fast for this examination.
If you are having an MRI of the prostate you will be given instructions by your doctor to purchase a suppository and use it the night before your examination. A special rectal coil will be inserted in the rectum to obtain very clear, detailed images of the prostate.
For all other routine MRI examinations, you may eat, drink and take medications that you normally take.
Please arrive 15 minutes before your scheduled exam time for registration. A member of our Pre-Registration staff may call you to pre-register you for this appointment. If contacted, this will save you time on the day of your appointment. You will also get a call from the MRI staff to review your MRI safety screening questionnaire and answer any questions you may have.
If you have any questions about your exam or if you wish to reschedule your exam, please call the Central Scheduling Department at 413-447-2451 and they will be happy to assist you. Please allow 24 hour notice if you need to cancel your examination. The Central Scheduling Department hours are Monday thru Friday from 7:30 am to 5:00 pm.
If you would like to have an English language interpreter at the time of your appointment, please inform us at the time you book your appointment or call the Central Scheduling Department to arrange for one.
Contrast Agents in MRI
Some MRI examinations may require an injection of a contrast agent during the procedure. The agent will be injected into a vein in your arm or hand. This acts as a ‘highlighter’ and gives the doctor more information for certain things. If your doctor has ordered your examination with a contrast injection you will need to have blood work done within 30 days prior to your MRI to check your kidney function. We want to make sure it is ok for you to get the contrast. Your doctor will arrange this blood test for you. You will not have any restrictions or limitations after receiving the contrast. You may eat or drive as normal.
Please let the MRI staff know if you are pregnant or have allergies. The MRI staff will go over a MRI contrast form with you before you will be given the injection. You can bring a list of your medications with you if you have one.
What to Wear:
- Since you are going into a large magnet, we need to protect both you and our staff. For this reason, you will be required to change into hospital clothes for your MRI exam.
- You must remove all jewelry and body piercings, even if they are not in the area being scanned.
- All bobby pins, hearing aids, insulin pumps, pain patches, nicotine patches, etc will need to be removed as well.
- Dentures will need to be removed for exams done above the shoulders.
- Please leave your valuables at home. A locker will be provided for you to lock your belongings in.
- The MRI staff will assist you to make sure that you are prepared properly for your MRI examination.
What about Claustrophobia?
You will be asked to lie down on our MRI table. Special coils (devices used to obtain image quality) will be placed according to the body part being imaged. The table will slowly slide into the MRI machine which will have lights on inside and is open on both ends. You will be given a call bell to hold in your hand to call the technologist at any time during the procedure if needed. There is an intercom inside the machine as well so the technologist can communicate with you. We will provide music or ear plugs for you but you will still be able to hear us talk to you.
We will get you as comfortable as possible because we need to have you hold very still during the exam. If you experience pain when lying on your back for 30 – 45 minutes, you may want to speak with your doctor about getting some medication to help you to lie still.
If you are claustrophobic or anxious about being in the machine you should discuss this with your doctor and see if they can prescribe medication to help you relax. The MRI Dept is not able to prescribe medication for you.
After the Exam
There are no restrictions or limitations placed upon you after your MRI examination. You may eat or drive as normal. Your images will be reviewed and read by our board certified radiologists and a report will be sent to your healthcare provider. This usually takes 24 to 48 hours.
- MRI Patient Safety Questionnaire - Pittsfield, Medical Arts Complex
- MRI Patient Safety Questionnaire - North Adams Campus
- MRI Patient Safety Questionnaire - Spanish Version
- Abdomen/Pelvis/Bone Information - Pittsfield, Medical Arts Complex
- Abdomen/Pelvis/Bone Information - North Adams Campus
- MRI Neurological Patient Information - Pittsfield, Medical Arts Complex
- MRI Neurological Patient Information - North Adams Campus
- Breast MRI Information Sheet