How Long Does An MRI Take (And Why)?

How Long Does An MRI Take (And Why)?

Exact Answer: 1 hour

Doctors are practically the lifesavers of the world. Medical fields are improving every single day with the help of scientists and technology. New equipment and medicinal drugs are being improved every single day. There are tests to determine the condition of a patient, medicines to cure the analyzed illness or condition, drugs, and anesthesia to keep the pain mild.

Many tests help doctors scan the internal and external organs of a human being. By using these reports, doctors can diagnose the diseases and treat them accordingly. Among many other scans that are used everywhere, MRI is one of the most popular scans used to get images of the body’s internal parts.

It takes about an hour to get through an MRI, yet it is always based on the organs scanned. The duration can also differ based on the condition that the MRI is used to diagnose.

How Long Does An MRI Take

How Long Does An MRI Take?

Lumbar Spine MRI80 minutes
Brain MRI1 hour
Shoulder MRI45 minutes

Not every scan can be used to observe every part of the body. Some scans are specifically used to scan some parts and internal organs, and they are very specific too. MRI is certainly one of its kind. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) can be used to create a 3-D image of the internal organs. MRIs capture clearer images of the tissues. They are mere clearer than X-rays and CT scans.


MRI scans nerves, brain, blood vessels, organs, tendons, and ligaments. The working of MRI is based on aligning the protons in our body using magnets. Radio waves are sent through the body in short bursts, and the portions will be knocked out of alignment. Between the waves, the protons start realigning and this will send out signals that get the MRI machine to capture images.

According to NHS, most MRIs take place about 15 to 90 minutes. They can be longer or shorter based on the condition and the parts the MRI is scanning. It can also depend on the number of images being captured.

Why Does An MRI Take That Long?

An MRI on the knee can take about 30 to 60 minutes, and small devices like coils are wrapped around the knee. Causes of knee weakness, swelling, and bleeding can be diagnosed. A shoulder MRI takes about 15 to 45 minutes and some procedures require sedation. These procedures require 15 to 30 minutes more than the others.

Contrast dyes are used during MRIs and the procedures using contrast dyes take longer than the other. MRI of the brain is used to scan the conditions affecting one’s brain and it normally takes about half an hour to an hour. Procedures that do not use contrast dyes end about 15 minutes earlier. On the other hand, procedures that scan just a limited part of the brain just take about 5 to 10 minutes.

An MRI of the lumbar spine is used to determine the causes of back pains and any sort of health issues that are involved with the spine. A scan of the spinal cord can take about 60 minutes, and if contrast dye is used in the procedure, it can take about 80 minutes. The cervical spine MRI can be quick as 20 minutes and can last to a maximum duration of 45 minutes.


A cardiac MRI is probably one of the longest MRIs and it can take about 90 minutes. It can help a doctor diagnose heart-related conditions and after the doctors get the images of the MRI, they can prescribe the right medicines and treatment options to solve the medical issues.


An abdominal MRI takes about 30 to 90 minutes, but at times, it can even take 2 hours. Abdominal swelling, development of the fetus, and even blood flow rate can be determined. A hip MRI goes on for around 45 to 60 minutes, an ankle MRI takes around 40 minutes, a pelvic MRI takes about an hour and a chest MRI, just like a cardiac MRI takes place for about 90 minutes.

The things that one must follow before and after surgery differs based on the person, and the person can visit the doctor for more advice and specific before and after specifications.



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