How Long Does An MRI Take?

Before getting an MRI scan, do you know how long does an MRI take? For many of us, MRI looks like a scary procedure! MRI stands for magnetic resonance imaging where magnets and radio waves are used to generate pictures of inside the body. Oncologist evaluates these pictures to detect any tumors, diseases, injuries, or abnormalities. Today, we will determine how long does it take to get an MRI. An MRI scan can be used to examine any part of the body such as the brain, knee, and shoulder. Without wasting much time, let us now find out how long does an MRI take.

How Long Does An MRI Take?

An MRI is a painless and safe procedure that can take up to 15 to 90 minutes to complete. Sometimes, this procedure can take 15 minutes only. It works by using strong magnets to align protons in your body. Then short bursts of radio waves are sent through your body. Between radio waves, the protons realign and send out signals that allow the MRI machine to capture images.

Let us take a closer look at how long does an MRI take on shoulder. Generally, an MRI of your shoulder takes 15 to 45 minutes. Sometimes, this procedure can be quick as 15 minutes. If the procedure requires sedation, it may take 15 to 30 minutes longer.

Now, you must be wondering how long does an MRI of the brain take. The MRI scan of your brain or head takes about 30 to 60 minutes. This scan is widely used to identify conditions affecting your brain. However, the scans that don’t require a contrast dye are generally shorter and take 30 to 45 minutes.

While getting a back MRI scan, do you know how long does an MRI of the back take? A back MRI takes 30 to 90 minutes. Sometimes, it may take 2 hours to do the scan. When it comes to how long does an MRI take for the lower back, the answer is the same (30-60 minutes). If a contrast dye is required, the scan may take 45 to 80 minutes to complete.

Keep on reading further to know more about how long does an MRI take on the knee.

A knee MRI can be used to identify weakness, swelling, or bleeding around the knee joint. This procedure takes about 30 to 60 minutes where small devices containing coils are put around your knee to produce clearer images. Sometimes, it can also take less time to complete if doctors require fewer images.

An ankle MRI generally takes about 40 minutes or up to 1 hour in some cases. While a pelvic MRI takes about 30 to 60 minutes or longer if many pictures are needed. Have you ever seen a chest MRI? A chest or breast MRI takes less than 90 minutes. This scan helps to determine an injury or suspected condition in your chest area. The majority of hip MRIs take roughly 45 minutes.

You can keep on reading to know more about how long does an MRI take for the full body.

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How Long Does A Full Body MRI Take?

The entire process takes between 60 to 90 minutes depending on the extent of scanning required. Full-body MRI scans take place inside a narrow tube. During this process, you’ll be asked to lie still on a table throughout the scan.

Things To Consider During An MRI

By far, I hope you’ve understood how long does an MRI take in general. An MRI scan is done in a large tube that contains powerful magnets. So, what not to do before an MRI? Here are a few things you can consider before, during, and after an MRI scan.

  • On the day of your scan, you can eat, drink, and take medications as usual.
  • Before the scan, you are not allowed to eat or drink for up to 4 hours.
  • You may be asked to drink a large amount of water beforehand depending on the area being scanned. 
  • When you arrive, you’ll be asked to fill in and sign a form about your health and medical history.
  • Remove any metal objects from your body like watches, jewelry, dentures, wigs, hairpins, and so on. 
  • It is advised to wear clothes without metal zips, fasteners, buttons, underwires, belts, or buckles.
  • It is very important to keep your whole body still throughout the scan to avoid getting blurred images.
  • You can resume your normal activities if you have not had a sedative.

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Can MRI Results Be Seen Immediately?

The results from an MRI scan are typically interpreted within 24 hours, and the scans themselves are usually given immediately to the patient on a disc after the MRI is complete.

What Should You Not Do Before An MRI?

Since the MRI machines are magnets, it is best to not apply deodorants, antiperspirants, perfumes, or body lotions before the examination. These items contain metals that might interfere with the magnetic field inside the MRI machine and cause you to have distorted images and wrong results.

What If MRI Shows Something?

If you have a concern that your MRI revealed something that needs to be treated urgently, you can call your doctor’s office. However, if a radiologist identifies emergency findings, they will usually contact you. This is especially true if you require immediate treatment.

Can You Open Your Eyes During MRI?

You can keep your eyes closed.
Some people (including me) just close their eyes before they’re inserted into the tube and keep them closed throughout the test. If you don’t see the tube, the rationale goes, you aren’t really in the tube.

Do MRI’s Take 2 Hours?

Most types of MRIs take about 15 to 90 minutes to complete. In some cases, your MRI might be shorter or longer. The part of your body getting scanned and the number of images needed to play a role in determining how long the MRI will take.

How Much Does An MRI Cost?

The cost of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) typically ranges between $375 to $2,850 in the United States, while the national average is $1,325. Below you can find the average costs compared to national averages and the overall target fair price.

Why Can’t I Drink Water Before An MRI?

This feeling of urgency can make it harder to hold urine in. While you may still experience this urgency to a degree, not drinking for several hours before your procedure can make you less likely to experience incontinence during the scan.

Can I Keep My Eyes Open During An MRI?

You can have your eyes open during the scan, although some patients find that closing their eyes or putting a washcloth over them helps keep their nerves calm. If you close your eyes, though, please be sure not to fall asleep. While you sleep, your body can twitch and move, ruining the MR images being taken.

Why Do MRI Take So Long?

Why does it take so long to get MRI results? An MRI scan itself can take between 15 minutes to an hour to complete. The process takes longer than other diagnostic imaging (like X-rays) due to the number of images needed to build a 3D picture of your affected body part.


By reading the above post, you got to know how long does it take for an MRI. Most types of MRIs take 15 to 90 minutes to complete. Some MRIs can be shorter or longer. The overall time duration depends on the part of the body getting scanned and the number of images needed. When your MRI requires a contrast dye, the process will last a little longer than usual. You may get your MRI results in 1 to 2 weeks. Once your procedure is completed, you are free to go home. Once you know how long does an MRI take, you can have an MRI scan stress-free!