Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine.
Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine



Patient Information

Appointment Scheduling MSLHImaging@houstonmethodist.org

No appointment necessary for X-Rays. Walk-ins welcome.

Imaging & Diagnostic ServicesMonday - Friday,
7:00 a.m. - 11:00 p.m.
7:00 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.
Breast Center
Monday - Friday,
7:30 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.
8:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.


What is Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)?

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses magnetic fields and radio frequencies to produce detailed pictures of organs, soft tissues and bones. It does not use radiation like X-rays. The better the MRI image, the easier it is for your doctor to diagnose and treat you.

Tesla is a unit of measurement for magnets, just as a pound is a measurement for weight. The higher the Tesla of the MRI, the higher the quality of images produced by the MRI.

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   What are the types of MRI offered?

  • 3 Tesla Wide Bore MRI
    • Our 3 Tesla Wide Bore MRI has the highest field strength clinically available ensuring quality images. The superior image quality helps physicians make a more precise diagnosis leading to a better treatment plan.
  •  Our 3T Wide Bore MRIOpen MRI
    Image Quality Superior - 3 Tesla Poor - 0.7 Tesla
    Average Headroom

    Nearly 28" (about a foot more room than open MRI)

    *Option to go in feet first for 99% of exams

    About 15.5" to 17.5"
    Tunnel Length Short; your head is outside machine for most scans Long; your head may or may not be inside the machine depending on your scan
    Exam Time Quicker scanning for different areas without repositioning Exam time will last longer and continuous repositioning may be required

  • 3 Tesla MRI
    • Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital is proud to be the home of three — 3 Tesla MRIs — typically found only in the nation’s top academic medical centers. The 3 Tesla MRIs provide superior image resolution while reducing exam times.
  • 1.5 Tesla MRI
    • The 1.5 Tesla MRI is considered the industry standard. The 1.5 Tesla MRI is beneficial to those patients with surgically implanted hardware. A patient with a stent or other implant may be turned away from the 3 Tesla MRI for safety reasons but may have the opportunity to be scanned in the 1.5 Tesla.

   How does an MRI scan work?

The MRI machine is a large, cylindrical (tube-shaped) machine that creates a strong magnetic field around the patient. Unlike X-Rays and CT scans, MRI does not use radiation.

1. A magnetic field is created and pulses of radio waves are sent from a scanner.
2. The radio waves knock the nuclei of the atoms in your body out of their normal position.
3. As the nuclei realign back into proper position, the nuclei send out radio signals.
4. These signals are received by a computer that analyzes and converts them into an image of the part of the body being examined.
5. This image appears on a viewing monitor.

   What does “With Contrast” mean?

MRI scans may be done with or without contrast. "Contrast" refers to a dye-like substance injected into an intravenous (IV) line that causes the particular organ or tissue under study to be seen in more detail. Contrast examinations may require you to fast for a certain period of time before the procedure. Your physician or the hospital scheduler will notify you of this prior to your appointment.

   What if I am Claustrophobic?

Be sure to let your physician know before scheduling your MRI if you are claustrophobic. Patients who are claustrophobic find the spacious and comfortable 3T Wide Bore MRI very accommodating. Your physician can write you an order for the 3T Wide Bore MRI. You may also request it when you schedule. Alternatively, your physician can write you an order for a sedative to be used during the exam.

On the day of your exam, if a sedative is to be given by an intravenous line (IV), an IV line will be started in your hand or arm. If IV sedation is to be used, it must be ordered by the same physician ordering the MRI and your physician must provide a valid history and physical for you.

If the sedative is to be taken by mouth, your physician will need to provide you with a prescription for the sedative. Oral sedation should be taken approximately one hour prior to the exam. So, please bring the medication with you — you will take it once you arrive.

For more information or instructions about our 3T Wide Bore MRI or IV Sedation, please call us at 281-274-7171.


On the Day of Your MRI

   Where do I go?

Campus Map

At the time your appointment is scheduled, you will be instructed to go to the Main Pavilion or the Sweetwater Pavilion. When you enter, go to the Information Desk and our staff will gladly direct you from there.

   When should I arrive?

Arrival times vary based on the type of MRI that will be performed. If you are not sure of your time of arrival, please call 281-274-7170 to clarify.

   How do I prepare?

Wear comfortable clothing, such as sweatpants or shorts without metal or zippers and a t-shirt without metal or zippers. Because of the strong magnetic field, the patient will need to remove all jewelry and metal objects, such as body piercings, hairpins or barrettes, hearing aids, eyeglasses and dental pieces.

Tell the technologist if you:

- have a pacemaker inserted or have had heart valves replaced
- have metal plates, pins, metal implants, surgical staples or aneurysm clips
- have tattoos
- are pregnant
- have ever had a bullet wound
- have ever worked with metal (i.e., a metal grinder)

   How is an MRI performed?

Generally, an MRI procedure follows this process:

1. If a contrast medication and/or sedative is to be given by an intravenous line (IV), an IV line will be started in your hand or arm.
2. The patient lies on a table that slides into a tunnel in the scanner.
3. A registered MRI technologist will be in a room close by where the scanner controls are located. However, the patient will be in constant sight of the technologist through a window. Speakers inside the scanner will enable the technologist to communicate with and hear the patient. The patient will have a call bell so that he/she can let the technologist know if he/she has any problems during the procedure.
4. During the scanning process, a clicking noise sounds as the magnetic field is created and pulses of radio waves are sent from the scanner. The patient may be given headphones to wear to help block out the noises from the MRI scanner and hear any messages or instructions from the technologist. If the patient is being scanned on one of the 3 Tesla MRI scanners, he or she may listen to an MP3 player during the scan. Every patient will be provided ear plugs to minimize the sound of the scanner.
5. It is important that the patient remain very still during the exam.
5. At intervals, the patient may be instructed to hold his/her breath, or to not breathe, for a few seconds, depending on the body part being examined.
6. The technologist will be watching the patient at all times and will be in constant communication.

   How long will the exam take?

Generally, one MRI exam will take 30-40 minutes.

   Are there risks?

Risks are involved for pregnant patients or patients with certain implants. A technologist will ask about any implants the patient may have.

Pregnant patients in their first trimester will not generally have an MRI. Risks will be explained to all pregnant patients, and they will be required to sign a consent form if they agree to the exam.

   After your test:

A board certified Radiologist will interpret your exam. Legally, the technologist cannot interpret or discuss what they are viewing while performing the exam. A report with the results will be sent to your physician within two to three business days. Please check with your physician’s office to discuss the results.