Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center is the leading provider of MRI services in Northeast Georgia. There are three MRI scanners on our main campus -- two traditional "high-field" MRI scanners by General Electric and a revolutionary new "open high-field" MRI scanner from Siemens Medical.

MRI produces images of the body without the use of radiation, unlike X-ray and CT scanning. Instead, it uses the physical properties of magnetic fields, radio waves and computers to provide a quicker and more accurate diagnosis for your physician. In some cases, this can reduce the need for exploratory surgery and other diagnostic procedures, which might have an associated risk. MRI is used for all parts of the body and is effective in the clinical evaluation of the following conditions:

  • Brain disorders
  • Liver and other abdominal diseases
  • Traumatic injuries
  • Knee & shoulder injuries
  • Musculoskeletal disorders
  • Spine diseases
  • Facial/neck abnormalities
  • Tumor detection
  • Infection
  • Blood flow & vessel disorders

The computer processing of signals emitted by body tissue forms MR images. These signals are generated using a safe-magnetic field in combination with radio waves of a specific frequency. Differences in body tissue are revealed through this process and translated into different contrast levels on the image. Piedmont Athens Regional's on-site radiologist can then view the MR images and form a clinical diagnosis.

What to Expect With Your MRI

To prepare for your MRI, wear loose, comfortable clothes with no metal (such as sweats) and remove any metal from your clothing (including keys, coins and credit cards) or body, including jewelry and hairpins.

Let the technologist know if you have a pacemaker, electromechanical implants, cerebral aneurysm clips, implanted drug infusion devices (external insulin pumps are permitted), if you have ever been a metal worker, or if you have shrapnel or bullet wounds. The magnetic field of the MRI may dislodge these materials from the body, potentially causing life-threatening situations.

After asking you a series of questions, the technologist will assist you onto a table that is in front of the MRI unit. Depending on your procedure, you may need to have a coil, which acts as an antenna, placed on the area to be studied. The technologist will then give you earplugs to drown out the noise of the machine.

The tech will ask you to lie down comfortably and then the table will move into the machine, which is a large tube that is open at both ends. You will be able to communicate with the tech at any time through a microphone inside of the machine. You will hear loud buzzing and clicks during your scan and most patients have little or no sensations from the MRI.

Patients simply should prepare to be very still for the 30 to 60-minute exam.

The table and the patient are positioned inside the opening of the MRI scanner. The patient can be seen by the technologist at all times. The patient may talk to the technologist should a need arise, and family is allowed in the room throughout the exam.

An radiologist will typically read the results of the exam within a day.