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Learn more about MRI Studies and affiliating information using Wake Radiology’s resources and online forms.

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Wake Radiology is proud to have received the highest accreditations possible from the American College of Radiology (ACR).
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Wake Radiology is local and locally owned.

provider-60-yearsWake Radiology is a physician-directed, independent practice based in the Triangle and focused on quality outpatient imaging. And, we’ve maintained that focus for more than 60 years.

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MRI Studies

Wake Radiology has long been a Triangle leader in MRI, conducting one of the largest body MRI programs in the region. In addition to opening the first outpatient MRI center in Wake County, we were the first to perform many MRI procedures.

icon-meetradiologistThese include the first cardiac MR in Wake County as well as the first fetal MRI and contrast-enhanced 3D MRAs of the carotid, aorta, renal, mesenteric and peripheral arteries in Raleigh. Most recently, our radiologists were the first in the Triangle to perform an MRI procedure on a patient with an MRI-compatible pacemaker.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is an amazing technology that creates images for a radiologist to interpret from the water in your body. Giant magnets allow your body to receive radio waves and “echo” them back. A computer uses the information within the echoes that bounce back from your body to create images.

The images created are unique to a patient, depicting his or her anatomy and any disease that may be present. The whole process is safe and painless. Some patients are so comfortable inside the magnet that they actually fall asleep while this advanced imaging takes place.

Select from the Studies Available

MRI of the Chest, Abdomen and Pelvis

Some of the latest advancements in imaging have occurred in MRI of the chest, abdomen, and pelvis, or “Body MRI.” Tumors sometimes can be classified as benign or malignant solely upon the information provided by MRI.

Body MRI examinations are the most specialized of all MRI applications. All examinations require the patient to lie on his/her back for 30–70 minutes, as still as possible. Many body examinations require the patient to hold his/her breath, repeatedly, for up to 30 seconds.

If you are scheduled for a MRI of the chest, abdomen, or pelvis and have difficulty holding your breath, you should alert the MRI staff upon your arrival. Sometimes, coaching before the examination is successful in achieving an adequate breath-hold for imaging. However, some patients will find that they cannot hold their breath adequately, and an alternate imaging method, such as CAT (CT) scan or ultrasound, may be recommended instead of MRI.

In some cases, the radiologist may determine that the patient must be injected with contrast. This is not a sign that something is wrong, but merely that additional information is required/requested. An examination that requires contrast is not an unpleasant experience. All contrast agents are FDA-approved and have an extremely low incidence of allergic reaction.

Some patients may be injected with Glucagon, a synthetic hormone that reduces motion within the bowel for about 60 minutes. Bowel motion can cause significant blurring of images in the abdomen and pelvis, potentially rendering images useless. The injection is given in the muscles of the arm, much like an immunization. This drug may induce hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) in patients approximately 90 minutes after injection, causing some nausea, dizziness, and trembling. Because eating can prevent these symptoms nearly completely, patients are required to eat chocolate, or other forms of sugar, prior to leaving the facility. Patients are also instructed to eat a meal soon after the examination. Diabetics will typically not be given this injection, so please inform the staff if you have this condition.

MRI of the Brain and Spine

Almost all imaging of brain and spine involves the patient lying on his/her back for 30–60 minutes. In some cases, the radiologist may determine that the patient must be injected with contrast. This is not a sign that something is wrong, but merely that additional information is required/requested. An examination that requires contrast is not an unpleasant experience. The contrast material has an extremely low incidence of allergic reaction, and most patients do not even notice the injection.

Note: Due to recent internationally accepted evidence that Gadolinium injection is linked to the onset of a rare disease known as Nephrogenic Systemic Fibrosis (NSF), Wake Radiology adheres to the nationally mandated guidelines set forth by the FDA. We will not utilize Gadolinium for MRI studies on those patients who are at risk of NSF, such as those with documented severe chronic renal insufficiency or dialysis dependence. Those patients may safely have non-contrast MRIs if required clinically.

 

MRI of the Bones and Joints

Almost all imaging of bones or joints involves the patient lying on his/her back for 30–60 minutes. Occasionally, other positions are required to image small joints or special areas. In some cases, the radiologist may determine that the patient must be injected with contrast. This is not a sign that something is wrong, but merely that additional information is required/requested. An examination that requires contrast is not an unpleasant experience. The contrast material has an extremely low incidence of allergic reaction, and most patients do not even notice the injection.

Some special types of joint imaging require “arthrograms,” in which the patient is injected with contrast material inside the joint prior to MR imaging. Patients having these examinations will be instructed to arrive earlier than usual, so that a specially trained musculoskeletal radiologists may be present to administer the contrast into the joint.

 

MRI of the Blood Vessels (MRA, or MR Angiography)

When physicians need to see blood vessels, they create images called “angiograms.” Typical angiograms require admission to a hospital for the procedure, but MR angiograms can be performed without risk or hospitalization, in 30–70 minutes depending upon the body part to be imaged.

Patients undergoing MR angiography of any part of the body except the head will receive an injection of contrast material in the vein of an arm. In some cases, a second contrast injection may be required for some parts of the body. An examination that requires contrast is not an unpleasant experience. The contrast material has an extremely low incidence of allergic reaction, and most patients do not even notice the injection. MR angiography of the head (Circle of Willis, COW MRA) can be performed without a contrast injection.

Because very large amounts of data are created during these studies, they can easily have hundreds of images that require hours of manipulation to interpret. Referring physicians will be notified of results as soon as is possible.

 

Short-Bore MRI

The radiologist may administer Valium, a relaxing medication, for patients experiencing anxiety or claustrophobia so that the examination will be a more acceptable experience. Family members or friends who can drive the patient home after the exam must accompany patients who receive intravenous Valium. These patients are advised not to drive or operate dangerous equipment for the remainder of the day.

The Safety of MRI

Magnetic resonance imaging is very safe. There are no health risks associated with the magnetic field or the radio waves used by the machine. Any metallic substance on your person can affect the quality of the diagnostic images. It can also cause discomfort or injury to you when placed in the magnetic field, and may exclude you from the exam. However, some special circumstances limit the use of a magnetic field, so it is important for you to tell us if any of the following apply to you or someone accompanying you into the exam room:

  • cardiac pacemaker, defibrillator (AISCD) or artificial heart valve
  • metal plate, pin or other metallic implant
  • intrauterine device, such as Copper-7 IUD
  • insulin pump or other infusion pump
  • aneurysm clips
  • previous gunshot wound
  • middle/inner ear implant
  • ever been a metal worker (had metal in eye)
  • permanent (tattoo) eye-liner
  • pregnant *
  • artificial joints or metallic plates **

Be sure to tell us if you are pregnant. Pregnant patients should discuss the examination with the radiologist prior to the appointment/examination. Although there are no known side effects on the developing baby, it is recommended that a pregnant woman wait until the second trimester for MR imaging. There are some exceptions to this rule. Wake Radiology also feels that Gadolinium (contrast material) should not be injected in the setting of pregnancy, and thus pregnant patients will only have non-contrast MRIs.

Metallic Hardware Joints: You can safely undergo MRI if you have orthopedic metallic hardware in your joints—such as a metallic plate or hip replacement. However, if the metal device is located close to the part of the body being examined, the images can be seriously degraded and useless.

MRIs and Contrast Agent

In most cases an MRI exam does not require an injection. In some situations, however, a substance known as a contrast agent (Gadolinium) may be needed to enhance the ability of the MRI to see into your body. All contrast agents are FDA-approved and have an extremely low incidence of allergic reaction.

Note: Due to recent internationally accepted evidence that Gadolinium injection is linked to the onset of a rare disease known as Nephrogenic Systemic Fibrosis (NSF), Wake Radiology adheres to the nationally mandated guidelines set forth by the FDA. We will not utilize Gadolinium for MRI studies on  those patients who are at risk of NSF, such as those with documented severe chronic renal insufficiency or dialysis dependence. Those patients may safely have non-contrast MRIs if required clinically.

Anxiety-Free MRI Experience

At Wake Radiology, it’s easy to have a comfortable and anxiety-free experience during an MRI. Most of the time, anxiety is related to fear of claustrophobia or panic attacks. Our radiologists are uniquely able to provide IV sedation whether scheduled upfront or on-the-fly to patients who have concerns, anxiety or claustrophobia. 

After you arrive, at your request, we will place a small IV (intravenous) line into your vein, and through that we will administer a small amount of Valium. This will relax you for the exam, making it possible for you to easily manage your own stress or anxiety. We will not “put you to sleep,” but rather will relax you thoroughly for the duration of the examination.

Please note that if we give you Valium at our facility, you will need to have someone drive you home. Although you will feel nearly normal by the time the MRI is concluded, you will still be subtly affected by the medication, and cannot drive safely. Also, you should take the next few hours to relax, to allow the medication to wear off naturally.

MRI and Pacemakers

The Medtronic Revo and Advisa MRI SureScan Pacing Systems are the only pacemakers that are safe for use in MRI procedures under specified MRI conditions. Please verify the device and leads on your pacemaker identification card. If it doesn’t have SureScan Technology, then it’s not FDA-approved for an MRI examination. Learn more

EASY SCHEDULING

Our scheduling team is available to answer questions about imaging procedures and insurance as well as assist in promptly scheduling your appointment. Contact our team by calling 919-232-4700

CONVENIENT LOCATION

Wake Radiology offers convenient office locations throughout greater Triangle including Raleigh, Cary, Garner, Wake Forest, and Chapel Hill with parking just steps away from check-in. 

INSURANCE

Wake Radiology is a participating provider for most major managed care insurance plans. We provide imaging services and file claims on behalf of all patients, including those with out-of-network insurance plans where a higher cost share may apply. Learn more about insurance.

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