Magnetic resonance imaging

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Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is an out-patient, non-surgical procedure used to scan the human body organs and structures. It uses a magnetic field, radio frequency pulses, and a computer to display a detailed image of the organ being scanned. It doesn't use ionizing radiation thus, safer especially in scanning vital parts of the body such as the brain and the spinal cord.

An MRI helps detect various medical conditions and diseases such as tumors, infection, injury, bleeding or diseases of the blood vessels. It is also used to check a problem that has been detected in an x-ray, CT scan, or ultrasound. MRI can also examine other body parts such as the chest, abdomen, blood vessels, and the bones.



An MRI scan should be done by a MRI technologist. The patient is made to lie down on a table with the head, chest, and arms strapped to keep the patient still during the procedure.

The area is wrapped with coil. Then, a belt is placed to monitor the breathing and heartbeat of the patient which signals the MRI machine to scan at the accurate time. The table then slides into the MRI machine which contains a magnet.

These are sometimes performed during the procedure:

  • Injection of contrast dyes through an IV line to enhance visibility of internal body parts that are being examined for abnormalities.
  • Earplugs are given to the patient to minimize the noise heard from the machine. * Sedatives may be administered to claustrophobic patients to help them relax during the MRI scan.

It is important that the patient keeps still during the procedure so that the technician can scan accurately. From time to time, the patient may also need to hold his breath for short intervals. The technician will watch the patient through a window and the patient can communicate with him via two-way intercom.


It is important to note the following before undergoing a MRI scan:

  • The MRI technologist should be informed of special conditions such as pregnancy,prior surgery, health issues, or if the patient has metal or electronic devices in the body (e.g. bullet injury, hip/knee replacements, or cardiac pacemaker).
  • Patients are not allowed to wear any metal jewelry or bring electronic devices.
  • For MRI scan of the bile ducts (magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography), food and liquids should not be consumed two to three hours before the procedure.

The procedure usually takes 30 to 60 minutes but some cases can take up to two hours.


Usually, patients may return to their normal activities after the procedure.


It is very rare to have complications due to an MRI scan but it is possible to experience the following:

  • Injury is possible due to the movement of metal or electronic devices inside the body.
  • Allergic reactions to the contrast dye may occur are but very rare.

Hospitals in the Philippines offering MRI scan

In the Philippines, MRI scanning procedures are offered by major hospitals which includes: