FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
The staff at Alliance HealthCare Radiology understands that this is a stressful time for you and your family. We make it our mission to provide you with exceptional care and greater piece of mind leading up to and during your exam. Below are the answers to the most frequently asked questions we receive:
For office hours, our address, including a helpful map and contact information, please visit our Contact page.
To schedule an appointment, please call 510-818-7380.
We understand that life happens and appreciate a minimum of 24 hours notice to cancel or change your appointment. Please call us at 510-818-7380 and we would be happy to assist you.
If you reach us after hours, please leave a message and we will return your call promptly the next business morning.
It would be our pleasure to answer any questions regarding payment options, insurance coverage or your bill. Please call 877-556-5551 and ask for Patient Services.
For more information on insurance coverage and payment plan options, please click here.
Doctors use Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) to find diseases or abnormalities in the body without using X-rays or exposure to radiation. MRI uses a safe magnetic field and radio waves to create detailed images of the body including internal organs, blood vessels, muscles, joints, tumors, areas of infection, and more.
An MRI exam requires little preparation and in most cases, you can go about your daily routine – eat and drink as normal, take regular prescription medication, go to work, exercise, etc. There are a few things to keep in mind for your safety:
- Dress comfortably in lose fitting clothing, avoiding zippers, snaps, buttons, underwire or wicking/metallic fibers.
- Remove all metal items including watches, jewelry, piercing, hairpins, belts, dentures, or external medical devices including hearing aids and patch medications unless instructed not to by your referring physician.
- We will provide a secure place for your cell phones, keys and credit cards as they are not allowed in the scanning room.
Our staff will advise you should it be deemed necessary for you to change into one of our gowns. It is important to remove all metal objects before entering the scanning room as metal interferes with the imaging. As the magnetic field is very strong, it is for your safety and comfort that we ensure all metal items are removed before entering the scanning room.
Some exams require an injection of a contrast agent, which allows the radiologist to see the image more clearly. In this case, it is best not to eat or drink two hours prior to your exam. For more information, please call our office to speak with a technologist at 888-684-7674.
You will be asked about your medical history prior to scheduling and again before the exam starts to ensure your safety. Please let us know if you have any of the following implants or conditions as it may affect your ability to undergo an MRI or we may need to make special arrangements for you:
- Pacemaker (including those that are labelled MRI safe/conditional)
- Neurostimulators (TENS-unit)
- Implanted defibrillators
- Implanted drug infusion device (i.e., insulin pump, pain pump)
- Artificial heart valves
- Dorsal column stimulators
- Aneurysm clips
- Cochlear implants
- Metallic implants and prosthesis
- Vascular stent or stent graft
- Exposure of metal fragments to your eye
- History as a metal worker
- Shrapnel or bullet wounds
- Pregnant or breastfeeding
- Weight in excess of 350 lbs.
- History of kidney problems
- Allergy to iodine, or gadolinium
- History of diabetes
Upon arriving 15 minutes prior to your appointment time, you will be greeted by a friendly staff member who will check you in and answer any questions you may have. One of our technologist, all of whom are certified by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists, or a patient coordinator will call you back, collect any prior X-rays that you brought with you, ensure that you do not have any metal on you and inquire about any implants or other conditions that may interfere with the exam.
During your MRI scan, you will lie on a cushioned table that moves into the scanner. The most important thing to remember is to lie still and relax as any movement during this time can distort the image. You may bring a family member or friend into the scanning room to help you relax. As the scanner is rather loud while in progress, we provide ear plugs or headphones and you may listen to music of your choice to make you more comfortable. You will be able to communicate with your technologist throughout the exam, which usually lasts between 20-60 minutes depending on what your doctor has ordered.
Fear of being confined is a common phobia and one that our technologists are trained to assist you with. If you are claustrophobic or prone to panic attacks, you may want to consult with your doctor who can prescribe a sedative. We are unable to prescribe medication for you onsite so make sure you speak with your referring physician about your concerns prior to your exam. If you are prescribed a sedative for your scan, a friend or family member will need to drive you home. We will be unable to discharge you following the exam without a driver present.
There are no known risks from being exposed to magnetic fields of the strength used in imaging today. The magnetic field is not harmful in itself but precautions must be taken to ensure patient safety in the event that a patient has any of the implants or medical conditions listed above.
As very little research has been conducted on the safety of MR imaging during pregnancy, the benefit of performing the scan must outweigh the risks to the fetus and mother. Your doctor and the radiologist will make an assessment on a case-by-case basis and assist you in making an informed decision regarding your scan.
Your doctor or technologist may recommend that the MRI exam be done with contrast. Contrast is a medication that allows body tissues to be more clearly visible on an MRI scan. While MRI contrast (gadolinium) is safe for most patients, tell your doctor if you are allergic to any medicine (prescription or nonprescription), are pregnant, breastfeeding, history of kidney disease or if you have had an allergic reaction to any medical imaging contrast agents in the past.
Your MRI scan will be studied by a radiologist who is trained in interpreting your exam. The radiologist will then provide a report, which your referring physician will discuss with you. Your referring physician will contact you to schedule an appointment to go over the results. The results will be sent to your referring provider between 24-48 hours.
Should you need images or a report sent to additional physicians, we would be happy to accommodate that request and can fax the report to them and provide you with a CD containing the images to take with you.
If we can answer any additional questions, please don’t hesitate to call us at 510-818-7380.