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Full Body MRIs

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a more accurate method of identifying and characterizing medical issues than many other types of scans, including CT scans and X-rays. Without using radiation, the painless MRI process can help to detect tumors, lesions, and cancers.

State-of-the-art, concierge care in a technologically advanced practice setting

At Beverly Hills Concierge Health Center, our team is among the best choices for imaging in the Los Angeles and Beverly Hills region and beyond. Our dedicated, experienced providers offer personalized care along with access to today’s world-class diagnostic testing, including full body MRIs. We ensure each patient receives a customized approach that prioritizes their comfort, peace, and mind, and well-being.

What is a full body MRI?

A full body MRI is a painless exam that creates multifaceted images of the entire body, allowing providers a greater amount of precision when diagnosing medical conditions. Unlike X-rays and CT scans, MRIs use radio waves and magnetic fields rather than radiation. A full body MRI will combine images to render a complete 3D scan of the patient’s internal structures and organs. It is among the most effective approaches to rooting out medical warning signs in small, hard-to-see parts of the body, including the brainstem. In certain circumstances, MRI results can be enhanced through the use of intravenous-delivered contrast dye, which improves the visualization of abnormalities.

What does an MRI machine look like?

Traditional MRI machines have an elongated central tube in which the patient is inserted lying down, surrounded by a circular magnet. In modern versions of the technology, the tube is much larger, improving comfort for large-framed individuals or those with claustrophobia.

What parts of the body can be scanned with a full body MRI?

  • Bladder
  • Reproductive organs
  • Liver
  • Prostate
  • Ovaries
  • Kidneys
  • Heart
  • Spleen
  • Pancreas
  • Adrenal glands
  • Biliary tract
  • Bowels
  • Lymph nodes
  • Blood vessels

Which health conditions can be diagnosed with a full body MRI?

  • Brain injuries
  • Cardiovascular ailments
  • Cancer
  • Infections
  • Bone and joint damage
  • A stroke
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Tumors in the chest, pelvis, or stomach
  • Liver disease
  • Chohn’s disease
  • Inflammatory bowel syndrome
  • Breast implant damage
  • Damage to the blood vessels
  • Ailments related to the eyes and inner ears

How does a full body MRI work?

The water molecules in the human body consist of oxygen and hydrogen atoms. Hydrogen is the simplest element and the only one to contain protons by themselves without any neutrons. These tiny particles happen to be sensitive to magnetic fields. An MRI’s magnetic energy forces the protons in the body to align according to the magnetic field. When the patient goes through the MRI scanner, radio wave pulses are emitted to targeted areas of the body, which disrupt the protons’ new, magnetically-influenced alignment.

Once the MRI device is turned off, the protons quickly realign, allowing the MRI’s receptors to form an image based on the protons’ journey from aligned to unaligned and back again. This process can roughly be compared to pixels on a computer forming a visual image. Contrast dyes used during a full body MRI, which often contain Gadolinium, are administered intravenously before or during the session in order to accelerate the realignment of the protons with the magnetic field. The faster this mechanism is achieved, the brighter the MRI images will be.

How can I prepare for my full body MRI?

Most patients dread having an MRI because of the loud noises it makes. The process itself is not painful and all you have to do is to lie still while the images are captured. In order to prepare properly, there are a few important steps you can take:

  • Tell your doctor if you are claustrophobic – If you let your doctor and team know you feel anxiety, they may be able to provide you with a sedative to help you stay calm during your MRI.
  • Answer all questions truthfully – Since the MRI scan is magnetic, it’s important to tell your doctor about any metal implants, pacemakers, metal coils, cardiac defibrillators, shrapnel, bullet wounds, cochlear implants, or insulin pumps in your body. Also disclose pregnancy, diabetes, or kidney problems.
  • Avoid getting any new piercings – Patients will need to remove all jewelry and body piercings prior to their MRI scan. A new piercing may close up during the scan, so it is best to postpone your appointment until after your MRI scan.
  • Leave your jewelry and accessories at home – Anything made of metal and any electronic items can interfere with the MRI technology. Metal items can become dangerous projectiles during the scan and can cause injury. Leave the following at home: Watches, earrings, necklaces, bracelets, hearing aids, credit cards, pins, zippers, eyeglasses, removable dentures, pens, knives, keychains, smartphones, and tracking devices.

Sedation before a full body MRI

Often young children and teens will need to be sedated in order to complete the MRI without wiggling. It depends on the patient’s level of maturity and willingness to complete the exam. Some providers will offer headsets to block out the MRI’s noises and goggles that allow the child to watch a movie during the test. These options are also available for adults who deal with anxiety.

What can I expect from a full body MRI?

You will be instructed to wear a hospital gown for your MRI. If you wear loose-fitting clothing with no metal zippers or clasps, that may also be acceptable. Your provider will typically instruct you on what to eat and drink prior to your test and whether or not to discontinue any medications. For some MRI scans, patients will need to receive contrast dye intravenously in order to obtain the best test results. The most commonly used dye is Gadolinium, which can produce a metallic taste in the mouth for some patients.

Once you are ready, you will lie on a table that is inserted inside the circular scanner. You will need to remain extremely still, as any movements can lead to faulty images. You will hear instructions and information from your technician via an intercom system that allows you to communicate back any discomfort or problems.

During the scan, you will hear loud noises as the scanner captures images of your body. You can use headphones or earplugs to block out the sound. You may also feel minor twitching in the body, as the MRI technology stimulates the nerves. Overall, the process is painless and takes anywhere from 20-90 minutes to complete.

What happens after my scan?

There are generally no restrictions on what you can and cannot do after your MRI. Most patients resume their normal activities immediately. If you underwent sedation, you’ll need a friend, helper, or family member to drive you home.

Understanding your results

It can take a bit of time to receive your MRI results. First, the radiologist will examine the images and create a report to send to your doctor. Findings are categorized as abnormal, potentially abnormal, or normal. Your doctor will then discuss the findings with you and create a treatment plan if needed. MRIs performed in an emergency setting can often be interpreted much faster.


Can you wear a mask during an MRI?

Some masks contain metal in the nosepiece. Others may contain coatings or particles with copper or silver. The metal in the mask can potentially burn your face during the scan. It is important that your technician provides you with a metal-free mask if you plan to wear one.

Can you drive yourself home after an MRI?

If you received any sort of sedation or anesthesia prior to your scan, you will need someone else to drive you home. Side effects from sedation agents can last several hours. You should avoid not only driving but also using power tools, handling sharp objects, and doing any other potentially hazardous activity in which your vision or judgment might be impaired.

Which is better? A CT scan or an MRI?

Both tests are valuable diagnostic tools and your provider will simply order the one that is most useful for your situation. CT stands for computed tomography. It relies on X-rays to take cross-sectioned images of the body. CT scans are ideal for assessing abnormalities in the tissues, brain, bones, and other organs. It is common for a physician to order a CT scan in cases of lung issues, skeletal abnormalities, head conditions, urinary bleeding, and circulation problems. A full body MRI will produce much more detailed images than a CT scan, and is especially useful for viewing the areas behind the bones or soft tissues. MRIs can last up to an hour and cost around double the amount of CT scans, which last about ten minutes. MRIs are a lot noisier than CT scans, so patients undergoing an MRI may need earplugs or headphones.

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