Brain Imaging: MRI


  • MRI stands for magnetic resonance imaging.
  • A magnetic field and radio waves are used instead of radiation to produce clear images of brain structures which, if abnormal, could contribute to changes in memory or movement. The images are more detailed than a standard x-ray or CT scan.
  • Contrast, or an injected dye, may be ordered to provide even greater definition of the structures. Contrast is used if a mass, infection or inflammation, or alterations in blood supply in the brain is suspected.
  • Additional information will be provided if contrast is ordered.



  • Carolina Imaging is the provider of choice for brain images ordered by Memory & Movement Charlotte (MMC). They have multiple testing sites throughout the region.
  • Once the order is entered, the need for prior authorization from the insurance company will be determined. The test cannot be scheduled until authorization is confirmed.  The MMC staff will provide authorization information when available, often immediately upon sending the order. Ultimately it is the responsibility of the guarantor to confirm coverage.
  • Upon receiving the order, Carolina Imaging will schedule the test at the first available date and time. This may take up to 5 business days.
  • An automated call, text or email will communicate the scheduled date and time to the person for whom the test is scheduled. MMC does request the communication be provided to the caregiver if appropriate, but Carolina Imaging is not always able to honor this request.
  • If the scheduled date and time are feasible, no further action is needed.
  • If the scheduled date and time are not feasible, call Carolina Imaging at 704-512-2060 to reschedule.
  • If an automated message is not received after 5 days, please schedule by calling Carolina Imaging at 704-512-2060.
  • If a testing site other than Carolina Imaging is preferred, please let the provider know.



  • The test may not be done if there is implanted metal or devices such as a pacemaker. Orthopedic metal is generally safe. Check with the provider.
  • No preparation is needed unless contrast is ordered.
  • Take medications as prescribed and eat normally.
  • If contrast is ordered, additional instructions will be provided.



  • Upon arrival at the testing area, jewelry is removed, and a gown will be supplied.
  • While lying on a table, a special coil will be placed around the head. For comfort, a knee cushion, ear plugs or headphones, and a call button will be provided.
  • The table will slide into a narrow tube and loud clicking and banging sounds will be heard.
  • It is important to lie still during the MRI.
  • Tell the provider if there is a history of claustrophobia so that a medication or an open MRI can be ordered.
  • The test takes 30 minutes to complete.


  • Test results are generally available within 24 hours.
  • Test results are best discussed at the next scheduled follow-up appointment so they can be presented along with other information to make a diagnosis.
  • The office may call before the next scheduled appointment if the results are significant and additional action is needed.