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MRI

A Better & Low Cost MRI Experience.

We know that getting an MRI can make some patients anxious. At Cardinal Points Imaging, we believe that patients who know what to expect, will have a more comfortable experience overall. Our cost calculator will help patients know their financial obligations and the FAQs below will help answer many commonly asked questions. We’re also happy to discuss individual concerns by phone – contact us any time.

What is an MRI?

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a non-invasive medical imaging test that uses a strong magnetic field, gradients, and radio waves to create images of the body’s internal organs and structures. It does not use ionizing radiation or X-Rays to produce the image. The resulting images reveal details that are invisible or hard to see when using other methods, such as X-rays, Ultrasound, or CT scans. Providers often rely on MRI images for an accurate diagnosis of a variety of injuries, conditions and diseases.

For your safety and comfort:

  • Patients will be asked to complete a form documenting medical history information. The technologist will review this form with the patient prior to performing the exam.
  • Patients with implants in their bodies, such as pacemakers or stimulators, may not be able to have an MRI.
  • Patients with piercings may be asked to remove them prior to having the exam. The magnetic field will cause metal to heat up and could result in burns around the piercing.
  • Patients will be asked to change into scrubs. Metallic fibers are used in many apparel materials and can heat up during the exam. To avoid the risk of burns, scrubs will be provided to wear during the exam.
    • A locker will be provided to store clothing and personal items during the exam.
  • The exam is painless and to ensure a comfortable experience, the technologist will provide pillows, headphones, music and warm blankets.

What you should know

Answers to frequently asked questions.

Our large-bore open MRI machines have a larger, shorter opening than traditional MRI machines. Depending on the body part being scanned, the positioning for some exams allows for the patient’s head to be outside of the machine. Even if the patient’s head is inside the machine, the larger opening allows for greater view of the room outside of the machine. Our machines offer greater image quality than traditional open MRIs and offer greater comfort and less anxiety for the patients.

We invest in the best technology to obtain the diagnostic results needed. The 1.5T MRI machines at our Midtown, Clayton and Brier Creek locations are gold standards for MRI exams for most parts of the body. In addition, we a 3T MRI machine at the Midtown location. This advanced MRI machine has the strongest magnet available in an outpatient setting. This machine offers even greater clarity for neurological, small joints and small organs within the body. Your provider and our radiologists will determine which MRI machine will provide the best diagnostic results for your exam.

It’s not unusual for an MRI exam to cause some anxiety. Our MRI machines are shorter and wider than most, creating a CT-like experience. Depending on the body part being examined, your head may not be in the machine. The opening of our machines are wider allowing for more space on each side of the body. Our compassionate technologists will make you comfortable on the table with a warm blanket and provide headphones with your choice of music so you can relax during the exam. Your technologist will talk to you throughout the exam and will give you a call button that you can press should you need immediate attention.

All MRI machines make noise during the scan, which is due to the way the machine creates images. The rhythmic “thump thump” sound is only heard while obtaining images. It’s extremely important during this time to hold completely still to prevent motion, resulting in blurry images. For your safety, we will provide headphones or earplugs to protect your hearing. You can listen to your choice of music for relaxation. However, even with headphones, you may still hear faint noises of the scanner. For your safety, hearing protection is always required during MRI exam.

MRI contrast, or Gadolinium may be injected into the vein to allow for better visualization of organs and blood vessels. An IV may be placed in the vein or butterfly needle may be used to inject the contrast agent. During the injection, you may feel a cool sensation at the injection site, which is completely normal. The technologist will review the use of the contrast agent with you prior to the exam and answer any questions you may have.

Some joints, such as the hip and shoulder, are complex structures making accurate diagnoses more difficult. To better visualize the entire joint structure, your doctor may order an “arthrogram” with the MRI exam. The arthrogram uses live-action x-ray to inject contrast dye directly into the joint. The injection is performed by a radiologist under a local anesthetic. The injection may be slightly painful and you may feel pressure in the joint as the injection is performed. The radiologist and technologist will take steps to make you comfortable. The MRI will be performed directly after the arthrogram is performed so the injected dye will be visible providing more clarity to the structures in the joint.

Cardinal Points Imaging understands that the cost of an imaging exam can be a concern. Our rates for both insured and uninsured patients are substantially lower than the same exam performed at a hospital. We believe that price transparency is important so you can be prepared for your financial obligations, if any. To learn more about what your exam may cost, please click here.

The radiologist will review the MRI images and provide a diagnostic report that will be sent directly to your provider. The report is typically available to your provider within 24 hours. Many providers plan scheduled time to discuss results with their patients so you could check with their office to see when they will be available to review the information with you.

Prep for your exam

With your physician approval, discontinue blood thinners 2 days prior to exam.

Nothing to eat or drink other than water 6 hours before exam.

Forms

If you have any questions about your visit, please contact the imaging center at 919-877-5400.

Please review and fill out (where applicable) the following forms before your visit.

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