What is Musculoskeletal MRI?

What is a Musculoskeletal MRI?

MRI, or Magnetic Resonance Imaging, is a noninvasive test that uses a magnetic field and radio waves to generate detailed images of joints, soft tissues and bone. A Musculoskeletal MRI focuses specifically on joint structures, including shoulders, hands, wrists, elbows, hips, knees, ankles and feet.

Whether you have a sports injury, arthritis or a torn meniscus, a Musculoskeletal MRI can help provide a complete diagnosis of the injury or pathology so you can get the treatment you need and get on with your life.

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Why would my physician recommend a Musculoskeletal MRI?

Your physician may recommend a Musculoskeletal MRI if you suffered a sports-related or work-related injury to your joints, have symptoms of arthritis, suffer chronic joint pain or have sustained injuries due to an accident or other event. The MRI will help your referring physician determine the cause of your pain and create an appropriate treatment plan specifically for you.

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How does Musculoskeletal MRI work?

Unlike conventional X-ray examinations and Computed Tomography (CT) scans, a Musculoskeletal MRI does not utilize ionizing radiation. Instead, it uses powerful magnets and radio waves to create images of joints, soft tissues and bones in the body. These images are ultra-sensitive, allowing Radiologists to detect bone erosion and inflammation, and can be used to diagnose any number of injuries or health conditions, including arthritis, tears of the muscles, tendons, ligaments, sports-related and work-related injuries, tumors involving muscles, bones and joints and more.

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What should I expect during a Musculoskeletal MRI?

If this is your first MRI, you may not be sure what to expect. Not to worry, we are here to guide you every step of the way. You may or may not be given a contrast agent intravenously. During the procedure, you will lie flat on an exam table. It is important that you remain still while the table slides through the scanner where the surrounding magnetic fields and radio waves will capture images of the designated joint. Also, the MRI machine does generate loud noises as the images are captured. All patients are given protective ear plugs, or headphones for music. The Technologist will be in the adjacent room operating the scanner, but will be able to hear and communicate with you throughout the exam. The exam can take anywhere from 30 - 45 minutes.

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What should I expect after a Musculoskeletal MRI?

When the MRI is complete, you may be asked to wait until the Radiologist checks the images to ensure no additional images are needed. Once the exam is complete, you may resume your normal activity level. Our Radiologist will interpret your study and send the final report to your physician.

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Is a Musculoskeletal MRI painful?

MRI exams are painless. The part that may be uncomfortable is remaining still during the imaging portion of the exam. If you suffer from claustrophobia, talk to your physician to see if medication may be prescribed.


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How do I schedule a Musculoskeletal MRI with Fairfax Radiology?

Contact our Scheduling Department for an appointment:

Phone: 703.698.4488 Monday through Friday 8am to 6pm

Fax: 703.698.0864

Or click here to make an appointment request

Please have your written physician order and your insurance card in hand when making your appointment.

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When are appointments offered for Musculoskeletal MRI?

For your convenience, appointments are available mornings, afternoons, evenings and weekends at the locations listed above. Learn more about each location.

Have questions about your insurance coverage?