The 3T MRI is named for having the magnet strength of 3 Tesla, a unit of measurement of magnetic field. Standard MRI units have 1.5 Tesla. The combined speed and strength of the 3T MRI mean acquiring the highest quality images possible with less chance of patient movement, reducing the need for rescans. Scans previously taking up to an hour can now be done in less time.
What is an MRI exam?
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a safe and painless test that provides pictures of organs and structures inside the body. It produces these images by using a magnetic field and pulses of radio wave energy.
Tissues and organs that contain water provide the most detailed MRI pictures, while bones and other hard materials in the body do not show up well on MRI pictures. In many cases, MRI provides information that cannot be obtained from X-rays or CT scans.
What can an MRI exam tell my doctor?
The 3T MRI can be used to evaluate:
Stroke, headache, memory loss/dementia, seizures, multiple sclerosis, spine disorders and other diseases of the nervous system
Liver cancer and liver disease
Ligament evaluation in body parts containing small joints, such as the hand, wrist, ankle and foot.
Chest, abdomen and pelvis, kidney, spleen pancreas and adrenal glands.
Orbit, pituitary, inner ear and cranial nerve imaging
Pelvic and hip bones.
Conditions involving the bile duct, gallbladder and pancreatic ducts (MRCP)
How do I prepare for my exam?
Generally, no preparation is necessary for an MRI scan. If your physician gives you a script or films, please bring them to your appointment. Unless otherwise instructed, you may eat or drink before the exam and continue your normal activities afterward. If your exam is scheduled with sedation, please check with your physician or the MRI department for further instructions.
It is very important for us to know if you have any metal in your body before your MRI scan is performed. The MRI uses a very strong magnet that may create movement of certain metal objects in your body.
In most cases, an MRI exam is safe for patients for metal implants, except for a few types. People with the following implants cannot be scanned and should not enter an MRI scanning area unless explicitly instructed to do so by a radiologist or technologist who is aware of the presence of any of the following:
Pacemaker or Automatic Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (AICD)
Some types of metal coils placed within blood vessels.
Any implanted mechanical or electrical device (i.e. cochlear or stapes ear implant, magnetic dentures, spinal stimulator, etc.)
Some types of brain aneurysm clips
Knowing the make and model of the implanted device is helpful.
Also, let your physician know if you are claustrophobic, are pregnant or think you could be pregnant
How is the 3T MRI performed?
The 3T MRI has many features that improve patient comfort, including reduced noise levels, an open design, and a low-to-floor position, making it especially accessible for frail and elderly patients. In addition, most 3T MRI scans can be done feet first, a benefit for claustrophobic patients.
The 3T set up allows for whole-body coverage so that patients do not have to be repositioned. The Open Bore MRI with its larger opening that traditional MRIs is ideal for claustrophobic patients or large patients.
Both 3T designs allow patients to enter feet first, which can decrease anxiety.
Patients will be positioned on the moveable examination table for the MRI.
If a contrast material will be used in the MRI exam, a nurse or technologist will insert an intravenous (IV) line into a vein in your hand or arm. A saline solution will drip through the IV to prevent blockage of the IV line until the contrast material is injected.
Patients are then moved into the magnet of the MRI unit. The 3-T units reduce the tapping sound normally heard during an MRI. The scans run more quickly with a 3T MRI than a traditional MRI.
Are there risks?
MRI exams don't pose a risk to the average patient. The strong magnetic field is not harmful in itself, but some implanted medical devices that contain metal may malfunction or cause problems during an MRI exam. Please talk to your doctor or radiology technologist if you have safety concerns regarding medical or electronic device in your body.
How will I find out the results?
Your MRI is interpreted by a radiologist, a physician specially trained in reading MRI scans and in other diagnostic modalities. The radiologist will interpret the findings of your MRI and prepare a report for your referring physician. You should receive the results from the physician who sent you for your diagnostic study.
3T MRI Locations
Advanced Imaging Center – BelleHarbour (Large Bore 3T MRI)
Advanced Imaging Center - First Colonial, Virginia Beach (Large Bore 3T MRI)
Sentara CarePlex Hospital
Sentara Norfolk General Hospital