Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) in Virginia | Sentara Healthcare
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Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) 

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Sentara provides MRI exams at advanced imaging centers and hospitals across Hampton Roads. Sentara offers several types of MRIs to meet the exact needs of the patient and referring physician. Great care is taken to ensure patients understand the procedure and feel comfortable during it.  

About MRI Scans

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a safe and painless test that provides pictures of organs and structures inside the body.

An MRI scan is a imaging test that uses powerful magnets and radio waves to create pictures of the body.

MRIs can determine the presence of certain diseases that other imaging methods - such as X-ray, ultrasound or computed tomography (CT) - may not show as well.

Because of the strong magnetic field, It is very important for us to know if you have any metal in your body before your MRI scan is performed.

What is an MRI?MRI
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a safe and painless test that provides pictures of organs and structures inside the body. It produces images by using a strong 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.

Information from an MRI scan can be saved and stored on a computer for further study. Images of selected body part views can also be made.

Types of MRIs
Sentara offers the most advanced and powerful MRI which produces high resolution image quality, using the 3T MRI. Available at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital and Advanced Imaging Center – First Colonial in Virginia Beach.

More MRI Info

Download a brochure for more information on MRIs, including precautions to take.
 Extremity MRI
For injuries or conditions of the arms and legs, the Extremity MRI provides powerful imaging in a comfortable setting.   Only the affected limb is positioned inside the Extremity MRI. Available at the Advanced Imaging Center - Leigh in Norfolk.

 Large  Bore  MRI 
A powerful machines that yields high quality, detailed images and provides a comfortable, non-threatening experience in a wider bore than offered in a traditional MRI. There are three large bore MRI locations in Virginia Beach and one in Newport News.

 Breast MRI 
Breast MRI is an important tool for detecting and staging breast cancer and other abnormalities.

 Cardiovascular MRI 
Cardiovascular MRI is an unprecedented imaging capability, dedicated to the evaluation of cardiac tumors, valve problems, and wall damage following a heart attack. Available at the Advanced Imaging Center at Sentara Heart Hospital.

What can an MRI tell my doctor?

An MRI can be used to evaluate:
The brain and spinal cord, including their blood supplies
 Organs of the chest, abdomen and pelvis—including the heart, liver, biliary tract, kidney, spleen and pancreas and adrenal glands.
 Pelvic organs including reproductive organs - prostate, testicles, uterus, cervix, ovaries.
Pelvic and hip bones

Physicians use the MRI examination to help diagnose or monitor treatment for conditions including:
Stroke, headache, memory loss/dementia, seizures, multiple sclerosis, spine disorders and other diseases of the nervous system
Tumors of the chest, abdomen or pelvis
Coronary artery disease and heart problems
Causes of pelvic pain in women, such as endometriosis
Liver diseases
Conditions involving the bile duct, gallbladder and pancreatic ducts
Breast cancer and implants

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 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 an MRI performed?
MRIPatients will be positioned on the moveable examination table. Small devices that contain coils capable of sending and receiving radio waves may be placed over the area of the body part being imaged.

If a contrast material will be used in the MRI exam, an IV will be set up.

Patients are then moved into the magnet of the MRI unit. If a contrast material is used, it will be injected into the intravenous line after an initial series of scans. Additional series of images will be taken following the injection.

During the exam, you will hear a rhythmic tapping sound. This is the normal sound of the magnetic fields as it scans.

MRI exams generally include multiple runs (sequences), some of which may last several minutes. An MRI exam normally takes between 30 and 60 minutes, depending on the part of the body scanned.

MR spectroscopy, which provides additional information on the chemicals present in the body's cells, may also be performed during the MRI.

Some patients may require sedation to complete an MRI exam without moving. Moderate and conscious sedation can be provided at most facilities. Any motion during the exam will degrade image quality.

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 devices in your body.

How will I find out the results?   
Your MRI is interpreted by a subspecialized radiologist, a physician specially trained in reading MRI scans and in other diagnostic imaging tests. The radiologist will prepare a report for your referring physician. You should receive the results from the physician who sent you for your diagnostic study.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Locations

Specialty MRI Locations




 Advanced Imaging Center - First Colonial, Virginia Beach (Open Bore 3T MRI)

 Sentara Norfolk General Hospital (Magnetom TRIO™ MRI)

Extremity MRI

Advanced Imaging Center-Leigh, Norfolk

Large Bore MRI

Advanced Imaging Center - First Colonial, Virginia Beach

Advanced Imaging Center - Independence, Sentara Independence, Virginia Beach

Advanced Imaging Center - Sentara Port Warwick, Newport News 

 Advanced Imaging Center, Sentara Princess Anne, Virginia Beach

Sentara Williamsburg Regional Medical Center

Open Bore MRI

Advanced Imaging Center - First Colonial, Virginia Beach (3T Open Bore MRI)

Sentara Norfolk General Hospital


Breast MRI

Dorothy G. Hoefer Comprehensive Breast Center at Port Warwick, Newport News

 Sentara Williamsburg Comprehensive Breast Center

 Sentara Leigh Comprehensive Breast Center, Norfolk

 Sentara Norfolk General Comprehensive Breast Center 

 Sentara Obici Comprehensive Breast Center, Suffolk 

 Sentara Virginia Beach Comprehensive Breast Center

Cardiovascular MRI

Advanced Imaging Center at Sentara Heart Hospital, Norfolk


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