Preparing for Your MRI

Most MRIs require little advance preparation, but a few things can help assure your comfort and safety in the MRI environment.

What to wear to your MRI

At your appointment at Tufts Medical Center and Shields MRI locations, our staff will advise if changing into a gown is necessary. 

  • Dress in comfortable clothing without metal zippers or buttons. 
  • Wear sport bras without underwires. 
  • When possible, leave jewelry and other valuables at home. 
  • Remove any patch medications or any external mechanical devices, or let us know if you’ve been medically instructed not to.

Health conditions that may impact your MRI

Although an MRI is completely safe and painless, some people should not undergo an MRI, or will need to make special arrangements. Any of the following conditions may interfere with your MRI. Please call us immediately if you are scheduled for an MRI and:

  • Have a cardiac pacemaker
  • Have a prosthetic heart valve
  • Have a surgical clip, bone or joint replacement, or any metallic implant
  • Have ever held a job in a metal-working industry or have been exposed to metallic dust or splinters
  • Have suffered a shrapnel wound
  • Have any metallic chips or splinters in the eye
  • Are pregnant, or think you might be
  • Weigh more than 300 pounds
  • Suffer from claustrophobia

What to expect on the day of your MRI scan

Please plan on arriving 20 minutes before your scheduled appointment time. Before your scan, a Tufts MC and Shields MRI patient advocate will greet you, obtain your insurance information, and answer any questions you may have. 

An MRI technologist will then discuss the procedure and confirm you have no metal implants or other conditions that could interfere with the scan. After that, you'll recline comfortably on a cushioned table and your exam will begin. You will be in constant communication with your technologist throughout the entire exam. 

Depending on what information your doctor needs, your MRI scan may require the use of an intravenously injected contrast, which will assist in visualizing certain structures in your body. If prescribed, this contrast will be administered by a specially trained Shields technologist. 

As the MRI scanner calibrates to obtain each series of images, you will hear persistent buzzing and thumping noises, but at no time will you experience any physical discomfort. You may wear earplugs or listen to music during your exam if you wish. While the images are being recorded, it’s very important to lie still and follow the technologist's simple instructions. The images obtained from your MRI are very sensitive to motion. Even the slightest movement can distort the image and limit its diagnostic value. 

Most MRI exams last 20 to 40 minutes, although compound studies last up to an hour. After your MRI, you may return home or to work. 

After you leave, your images are interpreted by a radiologist, a doctor who specializes in reading MRI. Within the next few days, the radiologist will contact your physician with the results of your study. Your physician will then contact you to discuss your results and, if necessary, prescribe treatment. Your physician is the only person authorized to discuss your MRI results with you.