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How long will it take to get the results of an MRI brain scan?

I have severe anxiety and do not think I could wait long for results on something as big as this. Does it take a long time?
MRI scans typically take about one hour to perform. After the test is completed, the images are uploaded onto a computer so that a radiologist can review them. Radiologists typically work on Monday through Friday, unless they are needed to review an emergent scan--for example, if an MRI is performed on a Saturday night to see if a patient had a stroke, then a radiologist can be paged to review the scan sooner than Monday. The turnaround time for an MRI scan depends on the radiologists' schedule. At many medical centers, the radiologist may interpret the scan and write a report on the order of several hours to one day. From that point, it is up to the physician who ordered the MRI scan to share the results with the patient. First, the physician must obtain the radiologist's report; at some medical centers, this can quickly occur through the internet, whereas at smaller clinics it may take a few days to arrive by mail or fax. Depending on the reason the scan was ordered, the physician may want for you to make an office appointment to review the results in person. You should speak with the physician who is ordering the MRI of your brain to determine how he or she will share the results with you, for example over the phone or in person.
This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.
If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under ZocDoc’s Terms of Service.
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Answers are written by doctors from top institutions:
  • Cleveland Clinic
  • Boston Children's Hospital
  • NYU Langone Medical Center
  • Brigham and Women's Hospital
  • Johns Hopkins Hospital
  • Mass General Hospital
  • Beth Israel Medical Center
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