FAQ for Volunteers

MR imaging is generally considered to be safe and millions of people have MRI scans every year without problems but accidents, injuries, and even deaths have occurred during MRI procedures. Such adverse events are extremely rare if appropriate safety precautions are followed. Serious complications can occur in people who have pacemakers, metallic particles in their eyes, or certain types of metal prostheses or medical implants. A researcher or technologist will review safety information with you before the scan. In order to determine whether it is safe for you to have the MRI scan, it will be important that you tell the technologist about any metallic objects or devices in or on your body. You will be provided with a squeeze ball that will enable you to contact the MRI and research staff at any time during your scan.

During the scan itself, you will lie on a table that slides into a horizontal tube slightly wider than your body. You will be asked to lie still, but you will be able to hear and speak to the MRI personnel/research staff. The scanner makes loud noises during imaging. Ear protection will be provided to reduce the noise level. Depending on the type of scan you may also feel the table shake or vibrate a little bit. This is normal.

If you move when the scanner is taking pictures then the pictures will be blurry (a lot like using a camera). For this reason, we will ask you to be completely still when the scanner is running. To help you keep still, we will try to make you as comfortable as possible before you are put into the scanner. Your head or other body part may be padded with cushions to help keep it in place. If you are uncomfortable and need to shift position slightly between scans it is usually okay to do so but different studies have different requirements and you should check with the research team. If you are very uncomfortable, you should let the researchers or technologist know right away.

Tattoos are generally safe for MRI. Rarely, some very old or homemade tattoos may have iron particles in the ink that can react with the MRI scanner by getting warm or causing irritation. If you feel anything unusual related to your tattoos, let the researchers or technologist know right away by squeezing the squeeze ball and they will stop the scan.

Generally, any sort of fixed (not removable) dental work is safe. Sometimes, even though it is safe, extensive dental work can cause problems for the MRI pictures. You should tell the researcher or technologist about any dental work you may have.

Parking is available for research volunteers. Please see Directions and Parking for more information. Some volunteers find it helpful to put “Meeting Street Cafe” into their GPS to get directions to our parking in Lot 9.

See Directions and Parking for information about getting here.