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Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)


Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is an extraordinary technology that provides a means of "seeing" inside the body in order for doctors to find certain diseases or abnormal conditions. The MRI examination requires specialized equipment that uses a powerful magnetic field, radiofrequency energy and computers to create very clear pictures of internal body structures.

MRI has become the preferred procedure for diagnosing or "ruling out" a large number of potential problems in many parts of the body. In general, MRI creates pictures that can show differences between healthy and unhealthy tissue. Doctors use MRI to examine the brain, spine, joints (e.g., knee, shoulder, wrist, ankle), abdomen, pelvic region, breast, blood vessels, heart and other body parts.


Every year, approximately 10 million patients undergo MRI procedures. MRI has been shown to be extremely safe as long as proper safety precautions are taken. Great care is taken to prevent potentially dangerous objects from entering the MRI system room. MRI facilities have screening procedures that, when carefully followed, will ensure that the MRI technologist and radiologist know about the presence of metallic implants and materials. Check with the MRI technologist or radiologist at the MRI center if you have any questions or concerns about any implanted object or health condition that could impact the MRI procedure.


We are pleased to offer a wide variety of procedures to patients of Mercy Health Saint Mary’s including scans of the following areas:

  • Body
  • Brain
  • Breast
  • Chest
  • Head
  • Knee
  • Musculoskeletal
  • Prostate
  • Shoulder
  • Spine

Patient Preparations*

MRI examinations do not call for any restrictions prior to the start of your test in most cases. However, please inform staff while scheduling your appointment if any of the following apply to you:

  • Allergy to iodine
  • Aneurysm clips
  • Artificial heart valves
  • Claustrophobia
  • Cochlear implants
  • History of diabetes
  • History of kidney disease
  • Implanted drug infusion device (e.g., insulin pump)
  • Metallic implants
  • Pacemaker
  • Penetrating injury caused by metal
  • Pregnancy
  • Prosthetics
  • Shrapnel or bullet wounds
  • Skin tattoos
  • Spinal/nerve column stimulators
  • Vascular stent
  • Other conditions you may think are relevant 

All patients will be required to change into hospital regulated gowns for the safety of yourself and the staff as well as the quality of your images. Please arrive 30 minutes prior to your appointment to check-in and fill out necessary paperwork.

Normal medication use is allowed prior to your exam.  Staff will ask for a list of these medications, however, so please have one on hand. If IV contrast is required for your exam it will be injected through an IV catheter inserted into your arm.

During the Procedure

Procedures typically take 45 minutes to one hour with images being taken at three to five minute intervals.  The imaging itself is very loud and can be alarming to some patients.  Ear plugs or earphones with music can be provided to patients requesting them (you may bring your own CD).  The area of interest on the body is placed in the middle of a large magnet inside of the MRI tube.  You will be required to remain still for the duration of the images and in some cases be asked to hold your breath for up to 30 seconds.  An alarm button will be provided to you in case of an emergency during your exam.

What if I am Claustrophobic?

Claustrophobia is the fear of being in tight and enclosed spaces.  Some patients may experience this during the MRI exam which can cause anxiety, increased heart rate, sweating and nausea. Even patients with extreme claustrophobia are able to have an MRI scan done. There are two options to assist you in your procedures if you are claustrophobic.

Oral sedatives (Valium, Ativan) may be taken by the patient prior to being put through the MRI tube. These must be prescribed by your physician and may not be taken until your arrival in the MRI department. Please do not take the medications prior to coming for your study.

Intravenous sedatives may also be administered through a vein in your arm. This must be arranged in advance by your referring physician.

Patients requiring sedation MUST have a driver with them prior to medications being administered.


Your exam will be read by a board-certified radiologist. (Our technologists are not qualified to interpret or give scan results). The report is usually transferred to your physician within 1 to 2 business days, but additional time may be needed for your physician to review and correlate with other tests that you have had. If you have not heard anything within 5 business days after your exam, you can contact your physician’s office.


We are located at:

Mercy Health Radiology - Saint Mary’s Campus
200 Jefferson Ave SE, 1st Level
Grand Rapids, MI 49503  Map & Directions

Mercy Health Southwest Campus
2373 64th Street SW, 1st Level
Byron Center, MI 49315  Map & Directions

Radiology Services is dedicated to improving patient access and providing the most advanced technology in the market. The 3T Verio MRI is available for use 24 hours per day, seven days a week. Referrals can be made through your physician's office and appointments can be scheduled by calling 616-685-4000.

*Source for Patient Preparation information: University of California San Francisco