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MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) 

MRI excels at imaging soft tissue, and is used to look at internal organs, the brain and spinal cord, and breasts. MRI can detect tumors, tendon and muscle tears and some bony abnormalities. Exams of the brain and its vessels can detect problems in the brain tissues or aneurysms (bulges) in the vessels. MRI can lead to early detection and treatment of disease and has no known side effects.

MRI uses a magnetic field coupled with radiofrequency pulses that interact with the hydrogen atoms in the body in order to create an image. Combined with computer technology, these images produce a 3 dimensional view of the body that allows many disease processes and other abnormalities to be detected with no radiation exposure to the patient. MRI has gained popularity as an effective diagnostic tool as accuracy has improved.

Specialty Services / Procedures

  • Cardiac Imaging
  • MR Enterography
  • Routine Breast Imaging
  • MR Guided Breast Biopsies
  • Prostate Imaging
  • Pediatric Exams with and without conscious sedation


  • MRI does not use X-ray radiation.
  • Many exams involve IV contrast, oral contrast, or both, which helps highlight the tissues and give the radiologist more information with which to make a diagnosis.
  • For any patient receiving IV contrast as part of their exam, a blood test is required to make sure the contrast is safe for you.
  • Because of the strong magnet, you will be screened and checked to make absolutely sure you don’t have any metal objects with you before you enter the scan room. We also need to know specific details about any implants in your body.
  • The technologist performing your exam will be nearby and able to talk to you throughout the scan.
  • MRI exams require that you lie still for the entire length of the study. Most people are able to complete the exam easily, but if you find you are uncomfortable, we have staff trained to assist you in completing your exam through relaxation and visualization techniques.
  • Every exam is interpreted by a radiologist with specialty expertise in the specific area of the body being imaged. A specialist is capable of seeing and understanding subtle things due to advanced training and singular focus.


To date, over 200 million patients have had MRI examinations. Every year, approximately 10 million patients undergo MRI procedures. MRI has been shown to be extremely safe as long as proper safety precautions are taken. In general, the MRI procedure produces no pain and causes no known short-term or long-term tissue damage of any kind. 

The powerful magnetic field of the scanner can attract certain metallic objects known as 'ferromagnetic' objects, causing them to move suddenly and with great force towards the center of the MR system. This may pose a risk to the patient or anyone in the way of the object. Therefore, great care is taken to prevent ferromagnetic objects from entering the MR system room. It is vital that you remove metallic objects in advance of an MRI exam, including watches, jewelry, and items of clothing that have metallic threads or fasteners. 

MRI facilities have screening procedures that, when carefully followed, will ensure that the MRI technologist and radiologist knows about the presence of metallic implants and materials so that special precautions can be taken. In some unusual cases the examination may be canceled because of concern related to a particular implant or device. (Shellock, MRIsafety.com)

What to Expect BEFORE My Exam

Please arrive 15-20 minutes prior to your appointment to allow for registration and preparation. 

There is no preparation necessary for an MRI unless you are having an exam called an MRCP, an exam of your gallbladder and the ducts associated with it, or an enterography. You will have been given fasting and preparation instructions for those exams prior to your arrival. 

Once you arrive in the department, you will be asked to complete a MR Environment Screening form and an MRI Contrast History form if your exam involves contrast. These are necessary to make sure you don’t have any metal implants that would be dangerous to have in the magnet room or that you don’t have any issues that would prevent you from having contrast (dye). You will be asked to change into a gown and/or bottoms, and remove any external metal objects from your body, including piercings. If you are to receive contrast, the technologist will prepare your IV before taking you into the scan room. If you are having an enterography exam, you will be given an oral contrast as well and will need to wait 2 hours after drinking it to allow it to coat your intestines completely.

What to Expect DURING My Exam

Once in the scan room, the technologist will explain your exam to you before it begins and will give you ear plugs to muffle the noise the machine makes. You may be asked to lie on your back or on your stomach, and should plan to be in the machine for at least 45 minutes in order to complete your exam. You must remain still and quiet for the entire exam, as any movement, even speaking, can make the images blurry. The technologist will be monitoring you the entire time, and may ask you to hold your breath for some parts of the exam. Once the scan is completed, the technologist will review the images to make sure all the information needed is there and then you will be brought out of the scanner. The technologist will then remove your IV if you received one, and bring you out of the room to change back into your clothes. 

The average MRI exam takes about 45 minutes. You should expect to be in our department for about 1-1.5 hours.

What to Expect AFTER My Exam

Once the test has been completed you can return home and resume your normal activities.

When Can I Expect My Results?

Once the radiologist reads your images, your ordering physician will receive your results typically within 24 to 48 hours. Your physician will go over the findings with you.

Recommendations and Reminders

  • Please arrive 15 minutes prior to your appointment to allow for registration and preparation. 
  • You will be asked to complete screening forms based on your exam; please fill them out completely
  • Please do not bring unattended children with you; by policy, we are unable to watch them for you.
  • Procedure lengths vary and can last anywhere from ½ hour to 3 hours if you are having an enterography
  • If you have known claustrophobia, please consult with your physician prior to the day of your appointment for assistance, as the department is not licensed to dispense medication.

Patient Information

Please contact 617.638.6678, Monday-Friday between 8 am and 4:30 pm with any questions or concerns. Your call will be directed accordingly.

To obtain copies of your images, please call the film library at 617.414.5882.

For specific information regarding our MRI department, please contact:

Kelly Bergeron
Manager of MRI


Call: 617.414.XRAY (9729)

Radiology Locations at Boston Medical Center:

Menino Pavilion
1st Floor
840 Harrison Avenue
Boston, MA 02118

Newton Pavilion
1st Floor
88 East Newton Street
Boston, MA 02118

Shapiro Center
Lower Level, Suite LL B
725 Albany Street
Boston, MA 02118

Refer a Patient

Call: 617.414.XRAY (9729)

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