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Magnetic resonance imaging

The purpose of this information leaflet is to provide you with information about magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), how to prepare for it, what may prevent the procedure from being performed, what happens during the procedure and where additional information can be obtained.

What is MRI?

MRI is a diagnostic procedure that uses a strong magnetic field to obtain an image of the human body. The procedure is painless, does not require any special preparation from the patient and allows the diagnosis of several diseases. MRI does not use ionising radiation or X-rays. The procedure is only performed for medical purposes with a referral from a doctor.

Preparation for the procedure

Please arrive at the reception of the Radiology department 15 minutes before the procedure.

Before the procedure, you will be asked to complete a questionnaire.

  • As a strong magnetic field is used during the procedure, no metal objects or mechanical devices may be taken into the imaging room. These may pose a risk to yourself, the staff and the equipment.
  • Please dress comfortably and, if possible, leave jewellery, watches, dentures, glasses, etc. at home as you will be asked to remove them during the procedure. You can leave your personal items in the locker of the imaging room.
  • If necessary, you will be given disposable clothing suitable for the examination procedure, which you will be asked to change into.
  • Do not use hair spray or cosmetics (e.g. eye shadows, lipsticks, body lotions containing glitter) on the day of the procedure.
  • You can continue taking your daily medicines and there are no restrictions on diet, unless your doctor tells you otherwise.
  • If you have claustrophobia or a fear of confined spaces, talk to your doctor, who will prescribe a mild sedative if needed so that the procedure can be performed. If you are afraid, also inform the radiologic technologist performing the procedure.

The following foreign objects inside or on your body may pose a risk to you and prevent the procedure from being performed:

  • cardiac pacemaker (except for an MRI-resistant pacemaker programmed to a special mode with a special device for the time spent in the imaging room);
  • brain aneurysm clip;
  • neurostimulator;
  • joint prostheses, screws, fracture fixation plates;
  • prostheses;
  • artificial heart valve;
  • fragments of metal;
  • stents, clips;
  • braces, orthodontic wires.

Inform the radiologic technologist performing the procedure of any foreign objects in your body before entering the imaging room.

If you are pregnant or if you suspect pregnancy, inform your doctor and the radiologic technologist performing the procedure. Although foetal harm has not been proved so far, MRI is only used during pregnancy in severe or life-threatening conditions, and the contrast agent is only injected for vital indications.

During the procedure

  • The procedure takes 15-90 minutes depending on the purpose of the procedure and the area to be examined.
  • Usually, you will lie on your back on the examination table and the radiologic technologist will move the table into the centre of the MRI device. The device is a tunnel-like, ventilated and lit room open at both ends. You must lie motionless during the procedure.  You will hear hammering and banging sounds that last from a few seconds to several minutes. You will be provided with headphones and earplugs to muffle the noise.
  • Many diseases can be diagnosed with MRI using a contrast agent. If your examination requires a contrast agent, the radiologic technologist will insert a venous cannula. The contrast agent does not contain iodine and is therefore well tolerated. Allergic reactions are very rare. If you are injected with a contrast agent, it is recommended that you drink more fluids after the procedure to help the contrast agent to leave the body faster.
  • During the procedure, you will be monitored through a window and a camera and in case of discomfort, you can alert the radiologic technologist by pressing a signal button.

You may get dressed and leave as soon as the procedure is finished.

You will find out the result of the examination from your doctor.

MRI scans are performed in the A-block of the hospital at Ravi 18 and in the X-block of the Magdalena unit at Asula põik 5. If the time of your examination is not suitable for you, please contact the reception of the Centre of Radiology on 620 7200 (Ravi 18) or 666 5130 (Asula põik 5).

Additional information

If you have any questions about the examination, please contact the helpline for radiological examinations. When calling the helpline, you will not be able to book an appointment for an MRI scan or receive information about the results of the examination.

You can reach the helpline from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Friday.

  • telephone: 666 5166
  • e-mail: radioloogiainfo [at] ()


Approved by the decision of the Care Quality Commission of East Tallinn Central Hospital on 14.10.2020 (protocol no. 10-20)