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Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses magnetic fields and radio waves to noninvasively image the body's soft tissue. It allows for more controlled imaging sequences to be taken and provides higher detail than other modalities used to image the body. 

As part of our commitment to delivering the highest quality care, UC San Diego Health offers:

  • Board-certified radiologists with advanced training and clinical experience in specialty care
  • Technicians with advanced credentials in MRI
  • Advanced scanning equipment, accredited by the American College of Radiology, including 3T and wide bore scanners that provide the highest-resolution images and more comfort
Our specialized expertise and equipment enable us to adjust and personalize scanning sequences for every patient. Our patients also benefit by having their imaging sequences interpreted by true experts in the field. We often perform "second opinion" scans to ensure the right diagnosis for patients who began their care at another hospital. We are asked to read MRI scans from patients around the world because of our internationally recognized expertise in musculoskeletal MRI.

MRI at UC San Diego Health

We offer the latest in advanced imaging technology and procedures, including:

  • MRI to diagnose sports injuries, early-stage arthritis, and neck and back pain
  • Neuro MRI to diagnose diseases and injuries of the brain, including stroke, cancer, multiple sclerosis (MS), degenerative diseases, trauma and dementia
  • Breast MRI to screen high-risk women and monitor patients with cancer
  • MRI-guided ultrasound for shrinking uterine fibroids and reducing pain from cancer metastasis to the bone
  • Magnetic resonance angiography (MRA)
  • Advanced prostate imaging
  • MRI-guided radiosurgery to treat inoperable brain tumors
  • Magnetic resonance enterography (MRE) to assess gastrointestinal disorders
  • Cardiac imaging and cardiac stress testing
  • Liver imaging
  • Evaluation of pelvic floor disorders and complications with pregnancy
  • MRI on individuals with a pacemaker

Staying Calm During MRI

Experiencing anxiety during a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) procedure is common. The machines are noisy (because of the banging metal coils, vibrating with rapid pulses of electricity), and claustrophobic for some.

There is nothing to fear, however. MRIs are painless and they are over within minutes. Your UC San Diego Health technician will talk to you before and between sequences, leaving plenty of time for questions. Don’t be shy. We are there to help.

There’s also a call button that you can press at any time to let the technician know if you have an itch, need to be repositioned or just have to get out of the machine right away.

Six Tips for Relaxing 

  1. Have a family member or friend present during the MRI.
  2. Enjoy the warm blankets or cushions we offer. Try putting a pillow under your knees, if possible.
  3. You can use the lavender- and vanilla-scented eye pillows provided to help you relax and remain calm.
  4. Listen to music. The medical staff has the Pandora app available so you can choose your favorite tunes.
  5. Try to control your breathing. If you start feeling stressed, inhale through your nose and exhale slowly out of your mouth, counting to 10 each time.
  6. Go for a little guided mental imagery. Close your eyes and imagine in vivid detail being somewhere else, a white sandy beach or flower-filled alpine meadow, for example.

FAQs About Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

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Will the MRI hurt?

How long will the MRI take?

Why does the MRI machine make that knocking sound?

Why would I need to have an X-ray done before my MRI?

Will an MRI affect dental fillings?


Appointments & Referrals

MRI and Other Imaging Records

A report describing your MRI imaging results will be sent to your MyUCSDChart  account automatically. If you do not have a MyUCSDChart account, if you need copies of the MRI images themselves, or if you need to request past records, call 619-543-6586 for assistance. 

Insurance

MRI Locations

La Jolla

Hillcrest

Sorrento Valley

  • 3510 Dunhill Street

Radiologists

Health Library

For general information about MRIs, visit our Health Library: