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General Preparation

Please note: These are general guidelines only. Always confirm your individual preparation instructions with your physician or nurse and when you schedule your appointment. For additional exam preparation information, please visit www.radiologyinfo.org


For women scheduling ANY radiology exam

Please inform the office if you are pregnant, think you may be pregnant, or if you are a nursing mother.


How to prepare for your MRI

Prior to your MRI, it is very important to let your physician, the scheduler and the MRI technologist (who will assist you with your exam) if you have any implanted devices in your body (such as a pacemaker), or any metal in your body, or if you have ever worked with metal as a hobby or profession. Sometimes tiny fragments of metal may be in your eye and it will necessary for you to have an X-ray of your eyes prior to your MRI. Please bring your implant card with you to your exam location.

For your comfort, wear a jogging suit or other clothing without belts or zippers. You will need to remove anything with metal, including earrings, hair pins, barrettes, belts, watches, rings, underwire bra, or pants or tops with zippers. You may be asked to change into a hospital gown.


During the exam

Most exams last about 30 to 60 minutes. The exact time required for your exam will depend upon the reason for your visit. It is very important that you remain still during the exam to ensure the best possible images. Although MRI staff may not be in the room with you, you can contact your technologist through an intercom at all times. Certain patients will require an injection of a contrast liquid to complete the exam. This liquid helps enhance the MRI images. The contrast material is different from the material used for CT scans and contains no iodine. It is very safe and has a very low incidence of side effects. Your radiologist and doctor will determine if this liquid will be used during your exam.


Your comfort

For some patients, lying still for an extended period of time in a small space may be uncomfortable. If you are uncomfortable in small spaces, tell your physician when you are referred for your MRI. Arrangements can be made to help make your exam as pleasant as possible.


How to prepare for your PET/CT

For 6 hours before your test, do not eat or drink (except water). Do not even chew gum or mints. Continue to take any medication prescribed by your physician. If you take your medications with food, eat nothing more than a few crackers 4 to 8 hours prior to your exam.

Avoid strenuous exercise for 24 hours prior to your exam. Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothes with no heavy buckles or other metal components such as zippers.

If you have diabetes, are pregnant or think you may be pregnant, or are a nursing mother, please notify your physician prior to scheduling your appointment.


How to prepare for your mammogram

On the day of your mammogram, please do not use any deodorant, creams or lotions on your breast area or under your arms. For your comfort, wear a two piece outfit (slacks and top or a jogging suit). If you are a new patient, or have had a mammogram done at another hospital (other than Inova Alexandria, Fairfax, Fair Oaks or Mount Vernon hospitals) please bring your previous mammograms and report with you.


How to prepare for your abdominal ultrasound

Do not eat or drink anything after midnight.


How to prepare for your pelvic or renal ultrasound

One hour prior to your exam, go to the bathroom and empty your bladder. Then drink 24 oz. of clear fluid (water, apple juice). Do not empty your bladder again until after your exam.


How to prepare for your obstetric ultrasound

0-14 weeks. Empty your bladder one hour before your exam. Then drink 24 oz. of clear fluid (water or apple juice). Do not empty your bladder again until after your exam.

15-40 weeks. You may go to the bathroom as needed.

How to prepare for your upper GI or upper GI with small bowel series or small bowel series only

Do not eat or drink anything after midnight. Please ask the scheduler how long your exam will take, as some exams may last 2 to 6 hours.


How to prepare for your barium enema

At least three days prior to your appointment day, purchase a “Fleet Prep Kit” (you will be told which kit to purchase when you make your appointment). This can be purchased at your local drugstore. Follow the 48-hour instructions that come with the kit.


How to prepare for your X-ray

Generally, no preparation is required.


How to prepare for your DEXA

Do not take calcium supplements for at least 24 hours before your exam. If you recently had a barium enema or were injected with a contrast material for a CT or other exam, please inform your doctor and the scheduler at the time you schedule your appointment.

For your comfort, wear a jogging suit or other loose comfortable clothing. Do not wear garments with belts, zippers or anything with metal. You may be asked to remove your jewelry or eyeglasses as metal objects may interfere with the exam. You may be asked to wear a gown during your exam.