01.03 Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

Join NURSING.com to watch the full lesson now.

Included In This Lesson

Study Tools



  1. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
    1. Detailed pictures of organs and tissues
    2. No metal in room

Nursing Points


  1. Magnetic and radio waves
  2. Magnetic field -> Realigns hydrogen atoms in body
  3. Radio waves -> cause them to make signals used for the pictures
  4. High resolution
  5. Purpose
    1. Clearer look for diagnosis
      1. Organs
      2. Vessels
      3. Bones
      4. Tissues


  1. Before MRI
    1. Explain scan and purpose
    2. Fill out MRI form with patient assistance
      1. Ask if claustrophobic -> may need medication to relax
      2. Any history of metal in body
      3. Have patient sign
    3. If contrast -> patient sign consent on form
    4. Fax form to MRI
    5. Disconnect IV lines

Therapeutic Management

  1. During MRI
    1. Position patient
    2. Ask to stay still during the scan
    3. Remove all metal from room (wheelchairs, bed)
  2. After MRI
    1. Transfer patient (bed, wheelchair)
    2. Check IV patency (flush) and reconnect any IV lines
    3. Radiologist will interpret results
    4. Doctor will discuss results with patient

Nursing Concepts

  1. Safety
    1. Metal in room or on patient must be removed to avoid injury (magnetic field)
  2. Patient Education
    1. No metal!
    2. Resume metformin 48 hours after contrast
  3. Patient-Centered Care
    1. Claustrophobic – may need medication to relax

Patient Education

  1. No metal in MRI
  2. If contrast, hold metformin for 48 hours


Hey guys! Welcome to the lesson about magnetic resonance imaging or MRI. 

So the MRI creates detailed high resolution pictures, much more detailed than the X-ray or CT scan. It does this by using a magnetic field to realign the hydrogen atoms in the body, and radio waves to cause them to make signals used for the pictures. Why would we need an MRI?

MRIs are perfect for getting a clearer look into the body for a proper diagnosis. Organs may be viewed like the brain and spinal cord for a clear neurological assessment. Vessels may be viewed even more clearly with contrast injection to light them up during the scan. MRIs can diagnose disease and infection in the bone like osteomyelitis in this picture. Infection and abscesses are visualized as well to help make decisions on patient treatment. 

So when the doctor orders an MRI for your patient, you will notify the patient of the test and why they are having it done. For example, if the patient has severe cellulitis in the abdomen and the doctor wants to make sure there isn’t an abscess forming. Your facility will have an MRI form that needs filled out by asking the patient questions related to metal exposure or placement in the body. A patient signature will be provided on the form as a consent that the information is right and they are willing to have the test.  Ask the patient if they’re claustrophobic because they may need medication to help them to relax as the MRI can take a while and is in a tight space. If the doctor orders an MRI with contrast, the patient will have to sign a consent because it is invasive. Fax the form to MRI so that the radiology tech may review and make sure there aren’t any contraindications. If there aren’t any, you will disconnect any IV lines before taking the patient to the scan. No metal may be brought into the MRI room. 

When you get to the radiology room, you will position the patient on the MRI board here according to the body part being viewed. Ask the patient to stay still during the scan so that a clear picture may be taken. Remember to remove all metal from the room because the scan uses magnetic forces that may cause shifting of metal resulting in damage. 

After the MRI scan is over, transfer the patient back from radiology. Check the IV for patency with a saline flush before reconnecting the lines. The radiology will interpret the scan for results and the doctor will explain the results to the patient. Let’s touch on patient education.

It’s super important that you emphasize the importance of no metal during the MRI, including jewelry and piercings. If the patient had contrast during the test, let them know they need to hold metformin for 48 hours after to protect kidney function. 

The priority nursing concepts for the patient getting an MRI are safety, patient education, and patient-centered care. 

Alright, now let’s review the key points. Magnetic resonance imaging or MRIs are high resolution scans that use magnetic and radio waves. The doctor may order an MRI to help diagnose disease in the tissues, bones, organs, or vessels. Before the scan, you will fill out an MRI form with the patient with questions about metal, have the patient sign, and then fax to radiology to make sure there aren’t contraindications for the test. Make sure you remove all metal from the patient and disconnect the IV lines. During the MRI you will position the patient according to the body part being scanned. Ask the patient not to move and remove all metal from the room. After the scan, the radiologist will interpret the scan and the doctor will explain the results. Let the patient know to hold the metformin for 48 hours after the scan if contrast was used to protect kidney function. 

Alright guys, that’s it on MRIs! No go out and be your best self today, and as always, happy nursing!