“MRI” stands for magnetic resonance imaging. This diagnostic imaging test uses magnetic fields and radio waves to make three-dimensional pictures of the body without using x-rays.\nMRI passes through bone and takes pictures of soft tissue, such as:\n\nTendons\nBlood vessels\nThe brain\n\nThe pictures \u2014 called scans \u2014 let doctors see very detailed images of the inside of your body.\n“MRA” stands for magnetic resonance angiography. An MRA scan gives a view of specific blood vessels (arteries and veins).\nYou might have an MRA as part of your MRI exam.\nCriteria Checklist: Who Can and Can’t Have MRI or MRA Scans\nThe checklist below helps to show if you can have MRI and MRA scans. Because these tests use highly powerful magnetic fields, it’s crucial that your doctor and testing team\u00a0know about any metal in your body.\nMany items on the checklist below are safe, but some mean that you cannot have an MRI or MRA.\nNote\u00a0all the items that apply:\n\nYou have a history of working with metal.\nYou have metal in your eye or have ever had metal removed from your eye.\nYou have shrapnel, BBs, or bullets anywhere in your body.\nYou have a pacemaker, cardioverter, or defibrillator.\nYou have had heart valve replacement or cardiac stents.\nYou have aneurysm clips or embolization coil.\nYou have\u00a0hearing devices of any kind.\nYou have implants of any kind (for example, dental, breast, penile, or ear).\nYou have had surgery in the past 2 months.\nYou have fear of tight or enclosed spaces (claustrophobia).\nYou think you may be pregnant.\nYou have had problems with past MRI or MRA scans.\n\nIf any of these items apply to you, tell your testing center before the day of your exam.\nDo not assume that your doctor’s office knows about your metal implants or any other items. You are responsible to alert your testing team\u00a0to these items.\nHow Do I Prepare for the Test?\nMRI exams don’t require any special preparations.\nUnless your doctor says otherwise, on the day of your MRI you can:\n\nEat and drink fluids.\nGo about your normal routine.\nTake your medicines.\n\nFor an MRA exam, your testing center will tell you about any special preparations.\nIf the test is scanning an area of your body above the shoulder, do not wear:\n\nMakeup\nJewelry\nHairpins\nHair products such as mousse, gel, or hair spray\n\nThese items may affect the scan.\nTell the doctor or technologist if you have asthma or if you’ve ever had an allergic reaction to:\n\nA contrast-enhancing agent\nShellfish\nIodine\n\nIf you are large or have a fear of enclosed spaces (claustrophobia), please tell your doctor in advance so he or she can arrange a wide-bore MRI scan.\nWhat Happens Before the MRI or MRA Test?\nPlan to arrive 30 minutes before your exam to register.\nA staff member may ask you to change into a hospital gown and pants. If so, you must remove all jewelry and store personal belongings in a locker. It’s best to leave all valuables at home.\nSome MRI and MRA exams use contrast-enhancing agents.\nIf you are to receive an enhancing agent, a technologist will insert an intravenous line (IV) in your arm or hand.\nThe enhancing agent may give you a brief sensation that moves up your arm.\nYou might get a:\n\nWarm, flushed feeling.\nTaste of salt or metal in your mouth.\nFeeling of nausea for a few minutes.\n\nThis is normal, but you should tell the technologist about these or other reactions.\nWhat Happens During an MRI or MRA Scan?\nMost MRI and MRA exams are inside a closed scanner. The magnet is like a tunnel \u2014 open at both ends \u2014 allowing light and air inside.\nThe technologist will help you onto a scanning bed. You will lie flat on the bed. The scanning bed will move into the center of the magnet.\nInside the scanner, you should:\n\nLie quietly and stay as still as possible, so the pictures are clear.\nBreathe normally.\nRelax.\n\nYou’ll have earplugs to block out the machine’s loud knocking noise.\nThe technologist will be in a room behind a large window and will see and hear you at all times. You’ll be able to talk through an intercom.\nThe exam usually lasts 1 to 2 hours.\nWhat Happens After the Test?\nThe technologist will help you off the bed. You may resume your normal diet.\nIf your MRI or MRA required an enhancing agent, drink plenty of fluids to flush the agent out of your body.\nIf you have diarrhea for more than a day, call your doctor.\nHow Do I Get My MRI or MRA Test Results?\nA radiologist will study your scans and report the results to your doctor. Your doctor will discuss the results with you.\nAsk your doctor or testing center about how to get your test results.\nFor more information on diagnostic imaging tests, check out our blog post explaining the difference between an X-ray, CT scan, and MRI scan.