Scheduling your Appointment

Our section serves over 45, 000 patients every year. Our priority is to see you in a timely manner with your safety and comfort in mind. The following, are the common steps which take place prior to your MRI appointment. Please make sure you follow the steps listed below
Your Primary Care Physician (PCP) or Specialist will order your MRI
Your ordered exam will need to be approved by your insurance provider. ( We will do everything possible to facilitate this process, however, please note that most of the insurance provider approvals are beyond our control and have an expiration period)

-See the list of accepted Health Plans-

Your Doctor’s Office will schedule your appointment
You are asked to call Radiology Scheduling Line at (916) 734-0655
Things you will be asked while scheduling your appointment
Date of birth
Insurance information
If you are claustrophobic
If you need General Anesthesia
If you have history of kidney disease
If you are currently on dialysis
History of any surgeries
If you have any medically implanted devices (AICD, Pacemaker, VNS, Medicine Pump, Cochlear implants)

-See a sample MRI Safety Questioner-

Arriving for your appointment

Please make sure you arrive at least 30 minutes early prior to your scheduled appointment. This will allow you to complete the required safety and insurance paperwork
You will be required to fill out MRI Safety Questionnaire prior to your appointment
Please bring all documentation about your implanted devices
Please make sure you are arriving at correct location
If you are pre-medicated for claustrophobia, please make sure someone will be available to drive you home after your visit with us

Your comfort and safety is our priority

We will make sure you are as comfortable as possible for your exam. In most situations, we may provide you with a leg cushion that provides back support, a warm blanket, and even prism glasses that will allow you to see the room outside the bore of the magnet (toward your feet). The scanner also has proper ventilation and lighting that may help you feel more comfortable.

MRI does not use ionizing radiation

Unlike X-rays, which use ionizing radiation, MRI uses non-ionizing approach to image the anatomy of the body. The type of non-ionizing energy is called radio-frequency (RF) waves. Unlike X-rays, RF waves do not break strands of DNA. This is one reason why MRI is a safer alternative as opposed to X-rays, and is a modality of choice for pregnant and pediatric patients

You are always in control

MRI technologist will give you a “call ball” to hold for the duration of your exam. The “call ball” will allow you to have constant communication with the MRI technologist. If the ball is squeezed, it will alert the technologist that you want to stop the exam for a moment and come out of the scanner. This will allow you to discuss some concerns you have with your technologist; such as deciding whether or not you want to complete the exam.

If you are having second thoughts about the exam, the technologist will discuss with you some of your alternative options.

We are always here for you

The technologist will always maintain visual contact with you. Even though the door between the MRI scanner and MRI technologist workstation must be closed. Each MRI room has a large glass window that allows the MRI technologist to always maintain visual contact.

Please Ask Questions. Be sure to ask your MRI technologist the questions you might have about your exam. Informing yourself of your MRI exam will hopefully offer more ease of mind since you will be aware of the entire procedure.

How to relax and combat claustrophobia

If you are suffering from claustrophobia, tell your Doctor before scheduling your MRI appointment.

Claustrophobia is a condition of persistent, and excessive fear of enclosed or small spaces. In such people, exposure to an enclosed or small space such as that found in MR systems, Often provokes an immediate anxiety response that, in its most extreme form, is indistinguishable from the panic attack described above.

Some researchers claim that as many as 20% of the people attempting to undergo MR procedures can’t complete the exams due to serious distress such as claustrophobia.

One way to combat with your claustrophobia is by doing mind exercises.

Try to determine what triggers your anxiety and attempt to block that out of your mind. Use self-talk to talk yourself out of the situation, e.g., “I’m going to get through this, this feeling will pass shortly”.

Think about what is on the outside. The MRI technologist always keeps an eye on you so that you are not by yourself. The technologist is on the other side of the window setting up your exam. Even though it may seem as though your are in a confined space, your MRI takes place in a large room.

Another way to help with your claustrophobia is by using breathing techniques. Although you may believe that taking deep breaths will help, this will actually make it even worse. Instead, take slow breaths.

Having a support system may also help you get through your exam. In most cases, a family member or friend may enter the MRI room with you and stay with you throughout your exam. If the situation allows, they may even hold your hand or pat you on the knees so that you know that they are there with you.

If none of these help you get through your exam, you may speak to your doctor so that they can provide you with medication. Often times, the medication will help you calm down enough to get through the exam. It is important, however, to be accompanied by someone so that they can drive you home since the medication may cause dizziness.

If you attempted to have your MRI with medication and you are still unable to complete the exam, the final option would be to undergo the exam with general anesthesia.

Helpful Tips

  • Mind Exercise
  • Breathing Exercise
  • Family Support
  • Pre-medication
  • General Anesthesia (as a last resort)

How long is my MRI exam?

The length of your exam will depend on what is ordered by your doctor, or the body part of interest.

In general exams will take 45-60 minutes and up to 2 hours for specialty exams.

For more detailed information regarding the length of your exam, please call the scheduling department at (916) 734-0655

  • On average, brain and spine exams may last about 45 minutes. If exam includes contrast, study may take up to 15 minutes longer.
  • Body exams may take up to 45-60 minutes. For body exams, it is important to follow the breathing instructions given to you for good quality reading.
  • Cardiac MRI, due to the physiological function of the heart, along with natural breathing motion may take an hour and a half to two hours.
  • An average iknee, ankle, hip, elbow and wrist exams may take 25-45 minutes long. One of the factors these exams depend on, is the length of the anatomy of interest. For example, an MRI scan of the thigh bone (femur) will most likely take longer than a routine knee exam.
  • Breast imaging exams may take about 45 minutes to an hour. If Breast Biopsy is required, exam might take up to 1 hour. Some factors that affect the time of the exam are the shape and size of the breasts. Most breast exams will require the use of a contrast injection.

Why does MRI make so much noise?

Noise is the byproduct of electrical pulses within the MRI scanner. These electrical pulses produce the images. You will be provided with ear plugs to reduce the noise and make your experience more comfortable.


Can I bring my belongings with me into MRI room?

MRI scanner is an oversized and extremely powerful magnet, which is approximately 13 times stronger than the magnet which picks up cars in a junk yard and 30,000 times stronger than the earth's magnetic pull. If a metal object is brought in the room, it will be attracted to the strong magnetic field and become a projectile. Electronic devices might be rendered useless by a strong magnetic environment. You will be asked to change into hospital approved attire for your examination to avoid such incidents.

For more information please visit our safety page.


Who will perform my MRI exam?

A certified and licensed MRI technologist will be helping you. In addition our technologists are certified to start IV catheters, perform CPR and are required to have ongoing continued education.

Who will read my MRI?

Your MRI exam will be read by a board certified radiologist with extensive subspecialty training. 

How will I know about my results?

Logging into MyUCDavisHealth or contacting your primary care physician will be the best way to look up your results.

Why do I need a contrast injection?

  • MRI Contrast is different from CAT scan (Iodine) contrast.
  • Some MRI exams require the use of a contrast injection. Whether or not your exam includes a contrast injection depends on the type of exam.
  • The use of contrast in MRI may make certain tissues, abnormalities, or disease processes more visible on the MRI scan. For all exams, images will first be acquired without the contrast injection. After several images are taken, the MRI technologist will then enter the room to administer the contrast intravenously. The contrast is not given prior to the beginning of the exam so that the radiologist has images before and after the contrast is administered.
  • Most Body imaging requires the use of a contrast injection. However, unlike most other exams where the contrast is administered with a small “butterfly” needle, body exams require the MRI technologist to start an IV. Prior to the start of the exam, the technologist will connect your IV to a system called the Power Injector. Near the end of the exam, contrast will be administered via the Power Injector at a flow rate that is faster than by hand.
contrast injection and syringe

Can I eat and drink prior to my MRI?

  • For more detailed information regarding instructions for your exam, please call the scheduling department at (916) 734-0655
  • You may eat, drink, and take your medications as usual for most MRI exams, with the exception of:
  • For body exams, you will be asked to fast 4-6 hours prior to your exam.
  • For some exams in which detailed images of the mid abdomen are taken, you may be asked to drink a small can of pineapple juice before the start of your exam.
  • For Enterography exam, you will be asked to drink 1-3 bottles of Volumen/contrast that will help enhance your study.

Can I have a copy of my images to take home with me?

Yes you can, by calling Legal Film Library at (916) 703-2147. Please be advised that this process might take up to 48 hours. Unfortunately we are unable to make a copy of your images for you in MRI department.