Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) | Loyola Medicine

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

Non-invasive Procedure to Accurately Detect Structural Abnormalities

Magnetic Resonance Imaging, or an MRI, offers precise accuracy to Loyola Medicine doctors when detecting structural abnormalities within the body. This form of testing is non-invasive and uses radio waves and a magnetic field to produce images of your organs, tissues and skeletal system. MRI technology provides detailed images showing small changes in body tissue, which makes it an extremely reliable tool for the detection of disease, injury, bleeding and swelling. 

Loyola’s neurosurgeons use MRI testing to detect tumors of the brain and spinal cord, as well as to evaluate the spinal cord after an injury. Our cardiologists use MRI technology to detect aneurysms or tears in the heart and aorta. Your orthopaedic surgeon may request MRI images of your joints, soft tissues and bones in order to diagnose an injury or condition. MRIs can also provide valuable information about your glands and internal organs to assess health, function and degree of injury.  

Loyola offers state-of-the-art imaging and diagnostic techniques in order to provide timely and accurate diagnosis for our patients. Our expert radiologists are recognized nationally and internationally for clinical excellence, innovative diagnostic and therapeutic methods and skilled use of the latest technology. Our experienced technologists provide testing in a caring and compassionate environment where we want you to feel comfortable asking any questions you may have about your test or procedure. 

Why Choose Loyola for MRI?

As an academic medical center, Loyola provides compassionate, comprehensive care to patients and trains future leaders in advanced imaging technology. Loyola takes a multidisciplinary approach to patient care and provides support services for patients and families. Your entire Loyola healthcare team has one goal: restoring you to better health.

Loyola’s Magnetic Resonance Imaging Center provides specialized diagnostic tools in the evaluation of diseases of the brain and spinal cord, the heart and blood vessels, breasts, internal organs, bones and joints. We provide specialized imaging including magnetic resonance angiography (MRA), as well as cardiac studies and breast imaging. Examinations are monitored by attending radiologists, in addition to staff radiological technologists and registered nurses who are able to provide all aspects of patient care. 

Electronic images are available to your doctors instantly through an electronic medical record system, allowing us to deliver timely, effective care to our patients. At Loyola, we understand the importance of continuity of care and will provide seamless communication with your doctor through our secure medical information portal, LoyolaConnect. You can also access results from your lab tests and evaluations through myLoyola

Loyola provides MRI testing in five convenient locations including Loyola Outpatient Center, Loyola University Medical Center, Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, Loyola Medicine Burr Ridge and Loyola Medicine Oakbrook Terrace

What Diseases are Detected with MRI?

Your Loyola healthcare team is experienced in using MRI technology to diagnose a variety of conditions and diseases. If you or a loved one has been experiencing unusual, concerning symptoms, you want an accurate diagnosis as soon as possible. Loyola’s dedicated team will determine what is causing your symptoms and deliver the highest quality of care—from diagnosis to treatment and beyond. 

We offer the latest MRI technology for the diagnosis of conditions and diseases, including:

  • Aneurysms — An MRI can detect an aneurysm before it ruptures, allowing for life-saving intervention.
  • Arthritis — Your Loyola doctor may use MRI testing to evaluate the extent of your arthritis
  • Breast abnormalities — MRI technology may be used in breast cancer diagnosis and staging. 
  • Cardiovascular diseases — An MRI of the heart and blood vessels can assess damage caused by a heart attack or heart disease and detect structural problems in the aorta—such as dissections, aneurysms, inflammation or blockages in the blood vessels.
  • Disk abnormalities — Your orthopaedic surgeon may request MRI images to evaluate conditions of the spine, including degenerative disk disease, herniated disk, spinal stenosis and spinal fractures.
  • Disorders of the eye and inner ear — MRI can be used to assess eye injuries, optic neuritis and tumors of the orbit and optic nerve. It can also be used to understand the cause of hearing loss, dizziness, tinnitus and Meniere's disease. 
  • Injuries — An MRI may be used to assess the degree of damage to your joints due to a traumatic or repetitive injury.
  • Multiple sclerosis — MRI technology is the most reliable in diagnosing and monitoring multiple sclerosis. 
  • Spinal cord injuries — An MRI can show evidence of injury within the spinal cord, as well as tumors and damage to the disks of the spine. 
  • Stroke — Your Loyola doctor may use MRI technology to pinpoint the area of the brain that is damaged due to an ischemic stroke. 
  • Tumors — MRI technology may be used to detect or locate tumors of the liver, kidney, spleen, pancreas, uterus, ovaries, prostate and testicles. An MRI can also assist in planning for treatment such as radiation therapy or tumor removal.

What to Expect During an MRI Scan

At Loyola, your MRI technologist will walk you through every part of the procedure, preparing you for each step before it occurs. We want you to feel comfortable during your test, so let your technologist know if you need anything to make you more comfortable. Also, please ask any questions you may have; your technologist is happy to answer your questions and address any concerns you may have. 

Your Loyola MRI technologist will ask you to remove all metal objects from your body, including jewelry, belts and glasses. MRI testing is not safe for patients with metal in their bodies—including pacemakers, metal implants, insulin pumps, artificial heart valves and metal chips. 

Depending on the area of your body being tested, you will be instructed on which clothing to remove and given a hospital gown. You will also be instructed not to eat or drink for a period of time prior to your exam. If your doctor has requested that contrast dye be used, it will be provided through an IV in your hand or arm. This will highlight particular areas of the body and provide a clearer picture. 

The MRI scanner is a large tube surrounded by a circular magnet, which creates a magnetic field around you. You will lie on a table that will slide into the MRI scanner. MRI images rely on your ability to be still in order to create clear images. The scanner can be loud; you may hear a loud, intermittent clicking noise during your test. Your technologist may ask you to perform small movements or answer simple questions during the exam. 

For patients who experience claustrophobia, please notify your doctor and your technologist. A mild sedative can be provided to alleviate this concern. Your technologist will be just outside of the testing room, accessible at any time with an intercom or buzzer. 

MRI testing is painless, and you will be able to return to your normal activities immediately after your exam is complete. If your exam included contrast dye, you will be instructed to drink plenty of water to flush the dye from your system. From start to finish, your test will likely take 60 to 90 minutes. 

What are the Risks of an MRI Scan?

Your Loyola doctor will discuss the benefits and risks of any proposed diagnostic and treatment plan with you. MRI technology is considered safe in moderation; it is painless and does not use radiation. If contrast dye is used during your MRI, you may experience a rash or itchiness. The risk of a serious allergic reaction is very low; tell your doctor if you have previously had an allergic reaction to contrast dye. 

Your healthcare team will ensure that your questions are answered and your concerns are addressed prior to any treatment or testing.