MRI Lower Extremities (Leg)

Your doctor has recommended you for an MRI of your leg. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses a magnetic field, radio waves and a computer to create detailed image slices (cross sections) of the various parts of your leg, foot, ankle and knee, as well as the different types of tissue, such as cartilage, ligaments, tendons and the meniscus (shock absorbers in the knee joint). MR technology produces good soft-tissue images and allows the physician to evaluate different types of body tissue, as well as distinguish normal, healthy tissue from diseased tissue. Our team of expert physicians, nurses and technologists is headed by Thomas Learch, MD.

Before Arriving at the S. Mark Taper Foundation Imaging Center

  • You can print and fill out the CT/MRI Musculoskeletal Questionnaire, the MRI Questionnaire, and the MRI and Pregnancy form, if applicable, from the Pre-Registration Questionnaire page before arriving to speed the registration process.
  • If you are claustrophobic (fearful of small, enclosed areas) or experience pain when lying on your back for more than 30 minutes, your referring physician may prescribe a relaxant or pain medication to help you through the exam. The imaging physicians at Cedars-Sinai will not prescribe such medications for you.
  • If you plan to take relaxation medication before your exam, it is our policy that you come with someone who can drive you home.
  • For studies that involve IV contrast: If you have veins that are small or hard to find, or have a port, please arrive 60 minutes before your scheduled arrival time.
  • If your doctor gave you an order, please bring it with you.
  • We want to make your waiting time as pleasant as possible. Consider bringing your favorite magazine, book or music player to help you pass the time. You may also bring a CD to listen to during the procedure.
  • Please wear comfortable clothing.

After Arriving

  • You will be asked to complete a questionnaire, which will help determine if an MRI is safe for you. People with various implants (usually metallic) or with metal in their bodies (including some tattoos) may have difficulty with an MRI, which utilizes a strong magnetic field. The imaging physician needs to be informed of any of these potential problems.
  • You must tell the technologist, radiology nurse and/or imaging physician of any allergies you may have and if you are pregnant or are nursing.
  • You will be asked to change into a hospital gown.

Magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) of the legs showing blood vessels. MRA uses magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to take images of blood vessels.

During the Exam

MRI of the toes from in front.

  • You will lie on the scanning table feet first with arms at your side. Coils (special devices to improve image quality) will be placed around your leg. The scanning table will slide your lower body into the magnet.
  • During the scan you will not feel anything but will hear intermittent humming, thumping, clicking and knocking sounds. Earplugs will be provided to help mask the noise and allow you to listen to music.
  • In some cases, the imaging physician requests a contrast agent (dye) to improve the quality of the images. The dye is injected into a vein in the arm, and may cause a cool sensation.
  • The technologist is always able to see and hear you during the exam.
  • The exam will take approximately 45 to 60 minutes.

After the Exam

  • There are no restrictions placed upon you. You may eat or drive as normal, although if you took relaxation medication, you will need someone to drive you home.
  • Your films will be examined by an imaging physician and a report sent to your doctor. Your doctor will review the results with you.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call 310-423-8000.

The S. Mark Taper Foundation Imaging Center provides a full range of advanced imaging, both radiology and cardiology, as well as interventional radiology and interventional tumor (oncology) treatments to the greater Los Angeles area, including Beverly Hills, Encino, Mid-Cities, Sherman Oaks, Silver Lake, Studio City, Toluca Lake and West Hollywood.