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8110 Gatehouse Road, Falls Church, VA 22042

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)


Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) provides an unparalleled view of inside the human body using a huge magnet, radio waves and computer technology to produce high quality images.

These exams are safe, painless and are used to diagnose many conditions involving the brain, spine, joints, muscles, abdomen, breast, heart, prostate and blood vessels.

The MRI machine is a large, tube-shaped machine that creates a strong magnetic field around the person being examined. This magnetic field, along with a radiofrequency, briefly redirects the hydrogen atoms' natural alignment in the body and causes them to spin. This spin creates heat, which is released from the spinning atoms and collected by the scanner to produce an image through specialized computer processing.

Cross-sectional views can be done to show more details. MRI does not use ionizing radiation, like X-rays or CT scans.

Before Your Procedure

Please arrive 15 minutes before your appointment time. (For MRI and nuclear medicine studies, please arrive 30 minutes before your appointment time.)

Bring the following information with you:

  • A signed prescription for an imaging study (unless your doctor’s office has either faxed an order or indicated they entered the order directly into Inova’s electronic medical records system)
  • Insurance card
  • Photo ID (e.g., license, passport)
  • Any previous exam films and reports performed at a non-Inova facility, including X-rays, mammograms, MRIs, CT scans and ultrasounds
  • Implant card, if applicable

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