Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"How long does it take to get the result of an MRI scan?"
I'm 25 and about to have an MRI. How long will I have to wait for results?
MRI or Magnetic Resonance Imaging is a diagnostic test that can be used to find or evaluate various parts of the anatomy. The benefit of MRI is that it does not expose the patient to any radiation (in contrast to CT scans which do have radiation exposure). MRIs can be used to evaluate bones/joints, brain/neuro anatomy, Pancreatic and biliary anatomy, and so on. In terms of timing, the test itself does not take a long time (the time ranges depending on what part of the body is being scanned and what exactly is being evaluated). The images themselves are usually available within an hour of having the test. But unlike a blood test that just looks at levels of a hormone or substance in the blood, an MRI is an imaging test, which has to be "read" by a radiologist trained in MRI interpretation which can take some time, depending on when (time of day, day of week) and where (large academic hospital vs small community hospital) the test is done. In most settings, the scan should be interpreted within 24 hours. In addition, it helps to know who ordered the test. Often times, an MRI is ordered by a specialist (e.g. neurosurgeon, orthopedic surgeon, hepatobiliary surgeon, etc). If this is the case, oftentimes the doctor that ordered the test can interpret the test to an extent. Hope this helps. I would highly recommend discussing the results of your test with the physician that ordered the test. Furthermore, you can request the official radiologist's report which will discuss the findings of the MRI. You should go over this report with your doctor and discuss any further diagnostic tests or interventions.
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