Patient Preparation

  • MRI
  • CT Scan
  • Mammogram
  • Ultrasonogram

How should I prepare for my MRI exam?

You will typically receive a gown to wear during your MRI examination. Before entering the MR system room, you and any accompanying friend or relative will be asked questions (i.e., using a screening form) regarding the presence of implants and will be instructed to remove all metallic objects from pockets and hair. Additionally, the accompanying individual will need to fill out a screening form to ensure that he or she may safely enter the MR system room. If you have questions or concerns, please discuss them with the MRI technologist or radiologist prior to the MRI examination.

Before the exam you will be asked to fill out a screening form asking about anything that might create a health risk or interfere with imaging. Items that may create a health hazard or other problem during an MRI exam include:

  • Cardiac pacemaker or implantable defibrillator
  • Catheter that has metallic components that may pose a risk of a burn injury
  • A ferromagnetic metallic vascular clip placed to prevent bleeding from an intracranial aneurysm
  • An implanted or external medication pump (such as that used to deliver insulin or a pain-relieving drug)
  • A cochlear (inner ear) implant
  • A neurostimulation system

Important note: Some items, including certain cardiac pacemakers, neurostimulation systems and medication pumps are acceptable for MRI. However, the MRI technologist and radiologist must know the exact type that you have in order to follow special procedures to ensure your safety.Items that need to be removed by patients and individuals before entering the MR system room include:

  • Purse, wallet, money clip, credit cards, cards with magnetic strips
  • Electronic devices such as beepers or cell phones
  • Hearing aids
  • Metal jewelry, watches
  • Pens, paper clips, keys, coins
  • Hair barrettes, hairpins
  • Any article of clothing that has a metal zipper, buttons, snaps, hooks, underwire, or metallic threads
  • Shoes, belt buckles, safety pins Objects that may interfere with image quality if close to the area being scanned include:
  • Metallic spinal rod
  • Plates, pins, screws, or metal mesh used to repair a bone or joint
  • Joint replacement or prosthesis
  • Metallic jewelry including those used for body piercing
  • Some tattoos or tattooed eyeliner (these alter MR images, and there is a chance of skin irritation or swelling; black and blue pigments are the most troublesome)
  • Makeup, nail polish or other cosmetic that contains metal
  • Bullet, shrapnel, or other type of metallic fragment
  • Metallic foreign body within or near the eye (such an object generally can be seen on an x-ray; metal workers are most likely to have this problem)
  • Dental fillings (while usually unaffected by the magnetic field, these may distort images of the facial area or brain; the same is true for orthodontic braces and retainers)

How should I prepare for my CT scan?

You should wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing to your exam. You may be given a gown to wear during the procedure. Metal objects, including jewelry, eyeglasses, dentures and hairpins, may affect the CT images and should be left at home or removed prior to your exam. You may also be asked to remove hearing aids and removable dental work. Women will be asked to remove bras containing metal underwire. You may be asked to remove any piercings, if possible.

You will be asked not to eat or drink anything for a few hours beforehand, as contrast material will be used in your exam. You should inform your physician of all medications you are taking and if you have any allergies. If you have a known allergy to contrast material, or "dye," your doctor may prescribe medications (usually a steroid) to reduce the risk of an allergic reaction. These medications generally need to be taken 12 hours prior to administration of contrast material. To avoid unnecessary delays, contact your doctor before the exact time of your exam. Also inform your doctor of any recent illnesses or other medical conditions and whether you have a history of heart disease, asthma, diabetes, kidney disease or thyroid problems. Any of these conditions may increase the risk of an unusual adverse effect. Women should always inform their physician and the CT technologist if there is any possibility that they may be pregnant

How should I prepare for my mammogram?

  • Do not wear deodorant, talcum powder or lotion under your arms or on your breasts on the day of the exam. These can appear on the mammogram as calcium spots.
  • Describe any breast symptoms or problems to the technologist performing the exam.
  • Obtain your prior mammograms and make them available to the radiologist if they were done at a different location. This is needed for comparison with your current exam and can often be obtained on a CD.

Do not schedule your mammogram for the week before your menstrual period if your breasts are usually tender during this time. The best time for a mammogram is one week following your period. Always inform your doctor or x-ray technologist if there is any possibility that you are pregnant.

How should I prepare for my ultrasound scan?

You should wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing for your ultrasound exam. You may need to remove all clothing and jewelry in the area to be examined. You may be asked to wear a gown during the procedure. Preparation for the procedure will depend on the type of examination you will have. For some scans your doctor may instruct you not to eat or drink for as many as 12 hours before your appointment. For others you may be asked to drink up to six glasses of water two hours prior to your exam and avoid urinating so that your bladder is full when the scan begins. In some ultrasound studies, the transducer is attached to a probe and inserted into a natural opening in the body. These exams include:

  • Transrectal ultrasound. The transducer is inserted into a man's rectum to view the prostate.
  • Transvaginal ultrasound. The transducer is inserted into a woman's vagina to view the uterus and ovaries.

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