Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

What is this test?

This test uses magnet and radio waves to make pictures of the inside of your body. Intravenous (IV) contrast dye may be used to make a better image. 

Your appointment

If you make any changes to your insurance before your appointment please call registration at 1-866-309-0832. This will help prevent delays and the need to reschedule your test, as many radiology services need a pre-authorization.

You will check in at the place written on your appointment letter.

If you have any questions or need to cancel your appointment please call radiology scheduling at 1-319-356-3444

Getting ready for your test

Before your test, tell your doctor or nurse if you are:

  • Pregnant or think you may be pregnant
  • Allergic to contrast dye or iodine. Be sure to tell your doctor about these allergies before the day of your test. They may have you take medicine the night before and the morning of your test.
  • Afraid or anxious in enclosed spaces. You may need medicine to help you relax during your test. This must be arranged before your test begins. If you are given medicines to relax, you will be given special diet instructions and will need a driver to take you home.


  • Adults and children, if you are going to be sedated by IV medications or anesthesia: 
    • Do not eat for eight hours before your test.
    • Do not drink anything for two hours before your test.
      • Be sure to drink clear liquids, such as water, tea, broth, or apple juice before that time so you do not get dehydrated.
  • Babies may have:
    • Milk or formula up to six hours before their test.
    • Breast milk up to four hours before their test. 
    • Clear liquids up to two hours before their test.
  • You may eat and drink before your test if you will not be getting IV sedation or are only taking a pill to help you relax.
  • If you have any other test today where you are told not to eat or drink for a longer amount of time please follow those instructions.


  • Take all of your medicines as prescribed.


You will need to have someone drive you home after your test if you are given:

  • Pre-medicine for an allergy, such as Benadryl
  • Medicines to help you relax during the test

Please do not drive for 24 hours after getting sedation. 

If you're unable to do any of the prep listed above, you may not be able to have the test or it may need to be rescheduled.

What to expect

  • The test will take one hour or longer, depending on the test you are having done.
  • For your safety, we will ask you to change into a hospital gown.
  • You will need to remove all jewelry, hairpins, watches, glasses, hearing aids, nonpermanent dentures, and wigs (if they have metal) before your test. You must also empty your pockets.
    • You will be given a locker to hold your things during your test.
  • The test is painless.
  • You will have to lie very still and flat on your back for one hour.
  • The can be noisy. We will give you earplugs or earphones.
Last reviewed: 
August 2018

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