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Loud Noises and Lying Still: What to Expect During an MRI Scan

Medically reviewed by Shannon Palmer, (RT)(MR)(CT) | February 7, 2023

A Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machine may seem intimidating if you’ve never been in one before. It’s big and loud and doesn’t provide you with a lot of space during your scan. So, the thought of lying in one may make you feel claustrophobic. As a result, you could feel scared or nervous if your doctor has scheduled a scan for you. But don’t be. Here’s what to expect during an MRI. 

What is an MRI?

An MRI machine uses low-energy radio waves and a magnetic field to create clear images of your bones, organs, and tissues. 

Most of these machines are shaped like tubes. The magnetic field inside temporarily realigns your water molecules, causing them to produce faint signals. A computer then reads these signals as an image. 

OIWK doctors can use those images to diagnose various issues, such as torn ligaments, herniated discs, and stress fractures.

Is an MRI safe?

MRIs don’t use radiation and are considered very safe. Although, they’re not recommended for everyone. You should tell your doctor if you’re pregnant or have metal implants or electronic devices in your body. 

Can you tell me exactly what to expect during an MRI?

A technologist will ask you to remove all jewelry before your scan. And you will most likely need to trade your clothes for a hospital gown. 

During the MRI scan, you will lie face-up on a bed that a technologist can remotely move into the machine. Then, depending on the exam ordered, they will put all or part of your body into the MRI tube. 

You must remain still as the machine scans your body so it can produce clear images. The MRI will make loud noises as it works, but you’ll be given earplugs or headphones to wear during your scan. The part of your body getting scanned may also feel warm, but that’s normal. 

Some MRI scans can take up to an hour to complete, but that’s not the typical length. Most of OIWK’s exams last 20 to 30 minutes. You can also talk to the technologist throughout the process, so you can ask them to stop at any time if you feel nervous. You’ll also have access to a call button that you can push if you’re experiencing any problems.   

You can get dressed once the scan is done, and feel free to ask the technologist any questions before you leave. 

Although you may feel hesitant to have an MRI, you can rest assured that the procedure is routine and safe. It’s also a vital tool that the OIWK doctors use to diagnose injuries and illnesses. 

Our physicians are happy to put your mind at ease if you have more questions about what to expect during an MRI scan. Just call (270) 450-7103.