Extremity MRI | | Loyola Medicine

Extremity MRI

State-of-the-Art Device to Assist in Diagnosing Joint Injuries

When Loyola Medicine added an extremity MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) device to the Loyola Medicine Burr Ridge, it became the first medical center in the Chicago area to offer such a device to patients. This scanner is designed specifically to scan the arms and legs and is quieter and more comfortable than a full-body MRI scanner. 

At Loyola, an extremity MRI exam is used to diagnose soft tissue and bone injuries or problems of the arms or legs including:

Unlike a full-body scanner which requires patients to lie flat and go inside the MRI scanner, the extremity MRI scanner allows patients to sit upright while only the arm or leg is placed inside the scanner. The detail and precision of full-body MRI scanners is available in the high-powered extremity MRI scanner, which generates detailed images to aid diagnosis and treatment. 

What to Expect During an Extremity MRI Exam

While most MRI machines require a patient to lie in a metal tunnel and stay still, an extremity MRI uses a smaller tube that fits only the arm or leg to be tested. You will be able to sit or lean back on a reclining chair during the scan. 

Many patients appreciate the ease and comfort of being in an open environment during an MRI scan. Patients who have larger bodies, patients who are claustrophobic and children often have difficulty being in a small, enclosed space may be better suited for the extremity MRI scanner. Patients who have back pain or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) may not be able to lie flat on their backs for extended periods and will appreciate being able to sit upright for an extremity MRI. 

An extremity MRI exam usually takes between 30 and 60 minutes, and you’ll be able to wear headphones and listen to music.

What are the Risks of an Extremity MRI Exam?

An extremity MRI exam poses very little risk to most patients. The exam uses a very powerful magnet, so be sure to tell your doctor before the exam if you have any metal inside your body. Also, if you have an implanted medical device (such as a cochlear implant or a cardioverter defibrillator), let your technologist know.