How Long Does It Take to Do an MRI? The Time to Know.

The medical field has come a long way in terms of technological advancements. With modern devices available in hospitals and clinics, doctors are now able to conduct medical examinations with utmost accuracy. One such device is the Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machine. An MRI scan is a non-invasive imaging technology that allows doctors to produce accurate images of the body’s interior. This technology uses magnets and radio waves to create images of internal body structures. But how long does it take to do an MRI?

Why Do Doctors Use MRI?

The MRI machine is used by doctors to identify internal body structures. An MRI scan is used to diagnose several medical conditions that include cancer, tumors, disorders of the brain, spinal cord injuries, and heart disease. The technology produces images with great detail allowing doctors to locate and diagnose issues with high degrees of accuracy.

Preparation for MRI

Before the MRI procedure, patients should wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing. Patients are also requested to remove all types of metallic objects from the body, including jewelry, eyeglasses, and watches. The patients should also inform the doctor if they have any metallic implants such as pacemakers or metal screws.

The Procedure

The MRI procedure usually takes between 30 minutes to an hour. This depends on the body part under examination and the process used. During the MRI scan, the patient will lie down on a special bed that is moved into the scanner. The radiographer will provide instructions to the patient during the procedure. The technician will monitor the patient and will be able to communicate with the patient through an intercom.

The MRI Machine

The MRI machine is a large cylindrical tube surrounded by a powerful magnetic field. The scanner is loud and patients will be given earplugs or headphones to reduce the noise. The machine uses radio waves to detect the signals from the body’s atoms, which are then transmitted to a computer that produces images of the body.

The Duration of MRI

The duration of an MRI depends on the area of the body being examined. Generally, an MRI takes about 30-45 minutes for one body part, while if two parts of the body extremities need to be examined, it can take around 60-90 minutes. Patients who undergo more complex scans that involve multiple body parts will typically take significantly longer. In certain cases, patients may require two sessions for a complete examination.

MRI Contrast

Some MRI procedures require the injection of a contrast agent, which allows doctors to see detailed images of the internal organs such as the liver and blood vessels. The contrast material is given through an IV and takes an additional 20-30 minutes to complete the procedure. The total MRI examination time with contrast is approximately 45-60 minutes.

Factors that Affect the Duration of the MRI

The duration of the MRI scan depends on several factors. Some of the factors include:

  • The type of MRI scan being conducted
  • The area of the body being examined
  • The complexity of the condition being treated
  • The age and overall health of the patient

Can You Move During an MRI?

During an MRI scan, it is recommended that patients remain still. However, patients can expect to change positions between different phases of an MRI scan. It is important to note that the patient should not move excessively since this can impact the quality of the images. To make the patient more comfortable and to help reduce movement during the procedure, patients are typically given a comfort pack that includes a pillow and blanket.


The MRI scan is a valuable tool in the medical world that can diagnose many conditions with high accuracy using non-invasive procedures. The time it takes to conduct an MRI scan depends on several factors such as the body part being examined and the complexity of the condition. Therefore, it is essential to follow the radiographer’s instructions to ensure the best possible results. Patients should remain as still as possible throughout the procedure, which will help reduce the amount of noise and time required while providing an accurate and reliable diagnosis.

Common questions related to ‘How Long Does It Take to Do an MRI?’ and their answers

  • How long does a routine MRI scan take? – A typical MRI scan usually takes between 30-45 minutes to complete.
  • How long does an MRI scan of the brain take? – An MRI scan of the brain can take between 30-45 minutes, but it also depends on the type of scan being performed.
  • How long does an MRI scan of the spine take? – An MRI scan of the spine can take around 60 minutes to complete if the entire spine is being scanned.
  • Does an MRI scan hurt? – No, an MRI scan does not hurt. However, some patients may feel a little discomfort while lying down during the procedure.
  • Do I need to prepare for an MRI scan? – Yes, patients must prepare themselves for an MRI scan. Patients should avoid wearing metallic objects and inform the doctor if they have any metal implants, including pacemakers.



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