MRI Scans at RCI

What is an MRI?

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) produces images of the body’s internal structures by passing radio waves through a powerful magnetic field. Different body structures produce different frequencies of radio waves, and these are mapped and turned into digital images by a computer. MRI is especially good for imaging soft tissues in the body including the brain, nerves, muscles and organs.

Because MRI can give such clear pictures of soft-tissue structures near and around bones, it’s the most sensitive exam for spinal and joint problems. MRI is widely used to diagnose sports-related injuries, especially those affecting the knee, shoulder, hip, elbow and wrist. The images allow the physician to see even tiny tears and injuries to ligaments and muscles.

Organs of the abdomen—including the liver, kidney, spleen, pancreas and abdominal vessels—can also be examined in high detail with MRI, enabling the diagnosis and evaluation of tumors and functional disorders.

How do I make an appointment for an MRI?

In many cases, an MRI or other imaging exam will be less expensive at a non-hospital location. Check with your insurance company and ask how an exam done in an “office setting” will be billed. It may be as little as your office copay. You have a choice of where to have your exam done. When you need an MRI in the Cedar Rapids area, choose RCI.

If you have been asked to schedule the appointment yourself, please have your physician’s order and pre-authorization information required by your insurance or health plan provider in hand.

MRI scheduling in Cedar Rapids is done in a centralized way to make the best use of these expensive machines. You can call the scheduling line at either Mercy (319-861-7778) or UnityPoint Health–St. Luke’s (319-369-8129) and ask to schedule your MRI at RCI. The scheduling staff will accommodate your request by accessing RCI’s computerized schedule.

How should I prepare for my MRI?

Since you will be positioned within a large, very strong magnet, you must remove all loose metal objects. Doing so is important for your safety as well as that of our staff, and for proper functioning of the equipment. You may be asked to change into a gown unless you are wearing clothing that is metal-free. You will need to complete a detailed screening sheet, on which you will be asked whether or not you have any metal or other devices implanted in your body that may interfere with the scan or cause injury to you. If you have any concerns or questions about that aspect of the procedure, please ask the technologist before you enter the room. We will also be happy to answer your questions by telephone at any time before your appointment. If you have any questions about your medications, please call RCI and ask to speak with an MRI technologist.

Please let us know if you are pregnant or have any of the following:

  • Cardiac pacemaker
  • Implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD)
  • Artificial heart valve prosthesis
  • Eye implants or metal ear implants
  • Implanted drug infusion device
  • Any metal implants activated electronically, magnetically or mechanically
  • Foreign metal objects from welding or accidents, especially if in or near the eye
  • Metal piercings that cannot be removed
  • Aneurysm clips
  • Medication patch (e.g. a transdermal patch) that contains metal foil
  • Copper 7 IUD
  • Shrapnel or non-removed bullet
  • Any metal punctures or fragments in the eye
  • Claustrophobia

What can I expect?

During your MRI scan, you will lie comfortably on your back on a table that is moved inside a large magnet. A piece of equipment called a coil, which sends and receives the radio frequency waves, will be placed around the area being examined. During the scan, you will hear various noises ranging from buzzing to loud knocking.

Because an MRI exam takes images or “slices” from various angles, several sequences or sets of images will be taken. Each sequence will last 1–10 minutes, and the technologist will inform you before the scanning noise begins. The total exam time for a scan can range 20–60 minutes. You must lie very still during each sequence in order to produce clear diagnostic images.

Depending on your symptoms or prior medical history, you may be given an injection of intravenous contrast for your scan. The technologist will explain this procedure to you.

After your MRI scan

When the test is finished, you are free to go. The radiologist will review the images after the exam is completed and send a report to your physician. Your doctor will discuss the results with you. Please allow your physician time to review your results.

For more information on this and other radiology procedures, visit
RCI is accredited by the American College of Radiology (ACR).

Contact RCI

RCI Imaging Center
1948 First Avenue NE
Cedar Rapids, IA 52402
Hours: Monday – Friday,
7:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Phone: 319-364-0121
Toll Free: 800-747-0121
Fax: 319-364-5684

For billing and
insurance questions:

RCI Business Services
1956 First Avenue NE
Cedar Rapids, IA 52402
Hours: Monday – Friday
8 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Phone: 319-832-1735
Toll Free: 800-747-9729
Fax: 319-832-1747

mailing address:

Radiology Consultants of Iowa
PO Box 338
Cedar Rapids, IA 52406