How Long Does an MRI Take? Your Ultimate Guide

Full Body MRI

Key takeaways:

  • A full-body magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan usually takes 60 minutes.
  • The procedure is safe, painless, and non-invasive.
  • The Ezra Full-body MRI scans up to 14 organs for cancer and other diseases such as hernias, aneurysms, fatty liver disease, and many more.

It’s an old saying that “Prevention is better than cure,” and for a good reason. Detecting cancer early can lower healthcare costs and increase your chances of survival. An MRI is a great medical imaging tool for early cancer detection.

If you’re wondering, “How long does an MRI take?”, the answer at Ezra is 60 minutes for a full-body MRI scan. It may seem like a long time, but an hour of your time increases the chances of catching cancer before it progresses. According to the American Cancer Society, a patient diagnosed with early-stage cancer has an 80% survival-rate while only 20% when diagnosed at a late stage.

Prevention involves many different things:

  • Making healthy lifestyle adjustments: exercising, maintaining a well-balanced diet, avoiding tobacco use
  • Keeping up with medications for chronic conditions
  • Getting regular health checkups and screenings

Preventive care and screening services, such as a full-body MRI scan, can help find chronic health issues like cancer, heart disease, and chronic kidney disease. This can help you get faster, more successful treatment, and improve your quality of life.

What is magnetic resonance imaging?

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a medical imaging technique used for both screening and diagnostic imaging.

This imaging modality generates detailed images of soft tissues at different angles and has an appropriate sensitivity when detecting tumors.

Its principle lies in how the water molecules in your body interact with a magnetic field and radio waves.

The water molecules in the body are made of protons that align in the same direction as an MRI scanner’s magnetic field. Once the protons in your body are aligned with the high-intensity MRI scanner’s main magnet, a magnetic interference is introduced (a radio wave). When the interference (radio wave) is turned off, the protons will slowly return to their original spin. Interestingly, the protons produce a signal as they relax back to normal. Receivers measure the signal and transform it into MRI images.

Technologists set up different types of sequences to image various types of tissues. For instance, a sequence called T1 is great for analyzing bone structures on the MRI scan, while a T2 is better for looking at tissues such as the liver or prostate.

A dark spot on a T1-weighed MRI scan is interpreted as a zone with excess water like edema, inflammation, or hemorrhages. A dark spot on a T2-weighed scan would be seen as fibrosis, calcification, or low proton density tissue. A T2-weighed sequence is generally used to visualize tumors.

Note that an MRI scanner can scan the full body or part of the body. For instance, an MRI of the brain will only focus on brain tumors and diagnosing neurological pathologies like multiple sclerosis.

How long does an MRI take?

From start to end, an MRI acquisition can take 15 to 90 minutes. Indeed, the larger the field of view scanned, the longer time it will take to acquire quality images. Radiologists at Ezra offer a 60 min whole-body MRI scan.

Taking into consideration the time to change clothes, your session of MRI takes about 1.5 to 2 hours.

The benefits of full-body MRI

A full-body MRI scan can help patients and physicians monitor health in a variety of ways, including:

  • Screening for certain cancers, including ovarian and prostate cancers
  • Identifying growths or blockages that can cause complications, such as near the liver or gallbladder
  • Identifying abnormalities and pre-cancerous conditions within the body

Some conditions affect more than one part of the body at the same time. For example, COVID-19 is a respiratory disease that may affect other parts of the body. A full-body MRI scan can help a patient, and their doctor gets a holistic view of a person’s health, allowing them to make better treatment decisions.

What to expect during an MRI appointment

how long does an MRI take: Woman receiving a medical scan

You just entered the waiting room. You feel good about your decision to take control of your health and get a whole-body MRI scan at Ezra. As you may already know, an MRI machine is nothing less than a strong magnet shaped like a long narrow tube. A bed slides in and out of this big cylinder (open at both ends).

Patient care preparation

Before entering the room where the MRI scanner is located, a nurse or a technologist will ask you to leave any metal objects at the door in a secure box until the procedure is over, as there is a strong magnet on the other side of the door.

Metal objects can be hairpins, piercings, jewelry, watches, necklaces, bracelets, bras, metal-based makeup, or hearing aids.

Before scan

Our Ezra dedicated care team will provide a soft and cozy hospital gown and ask for your favorite Spotify playlist.

Once in the room, lay down on the mobile table, belly up, and someone will slide you in the tube.

During scan

You will enter in a narrow tube. If you are claustrophobic, or fear of enclosed spaces, you can ask your primary care physician for the appropriate medication.

During the 60-minute MRI scan provided by Ezra, you will hear different noises coming from the magnet. Those are totally normal — Ezra will provide earplugs and MRI-compatible headphones to diminish any noise disturbance.

An MRI can serve many purposes. If the scan’s purpose is a diagnosis related to blood vessel pathologies, i.e., tumor vasculature, myocardial infarction, brain aneurysm, intravascular injection of contrast agents like gadolinium will be performed before a scan in the exam room. The Ezra whole-body MRI scan is a screening scan and does not use any contrast agents such as gadolinium.

After scan

At the end of the scan, you may dress back up, recover your belongings, and resume your day knowing you took an important step toward a healthier life.

Results

When the results are available, Ezra clinicians will walk you through an easy-to-interpret report. Our clinicians will give you medical advice and discuss the next steps with you. Keep in mind that Ezra full-body MRI scans up to 13 organs and can indicate your status on 35 different cancers.

Contraindications to MRI scan

Let’s mention it again: MRI machines generate strong magnetic fields. You won’t be able to get an MRI exam if you wear an MRI-incompatible medical device implant such as:

  • Pacemaker
  • Aneurysm clips
  • Artificial heart valve
  • Stents
  • Cochlear implants
  • Any metal-based prosthetic implants.

It’s important to note that many medical implants created after 2000 are MRI-compatible, so please reach out to us if you are unsure about yours.

Additionally, if you suffer from allergic reactions or have kidney problems, MRI exams that involve contrast agent injection could be prohibited by your doctor. This shouldn’t prevent you from being able to get an Ezra whole-body MRI scan, as the Ezra scans do not utilize contrast agents.

What makes a full-body MRI different?

MRI is one of several types of medical imaging modalities used to detect cancer. It does have several benefits compared to other types of imaging modalities.

One of the biggest advantages that a full-body MRI has is that it does not utilize ionizing radiation.

This makes MRI safe for regular screening since it does not expose the patient or the technician to radiation that can be dangerous in large or repeated doses.

A full-body MRI scan does not require any special preparation or downtime, so patients can immediately get back to their normal activities. This also means that a full-body MRI scan is painless and non-invasive.

If you’re still wondering, “How long does an MRI take?”, the answer for Ezra is 60 minutes. Sixty minutes can appear a long time but it is only about four minutes per organ. Ezra MRI will scan 14 organs for cancer or other diseases.

Our goal at Ezra is to make full-body MRI screenings available to everyone. Our methods combine advanced MRI technology to detect many cancers faster, so you can get treatment sooner. Expert radiologists analyze Ezra’s full-body MRI scans to ensure accurate results. Book your scan now.