Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI)|Loyola Medicine

Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI)

Non-invasive Procedure to Detect Brain Abnormalities

Functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI, allows Loyola Medicine doctors to measure blood flow within the brain and determine which parts of the brain are responsible for thoughts, speech, movement and sensation. This form of testing is non-invasive, using radio waves and a magnetic field to produce images of the brain, tissues and skull. 

MRI technology provides detailed images that show small changes in body tissue and blood flow, which makes it an extremely reliable tool for the detection of disease, injury, bleeding and swelling. Loyola’s neurosurgeons use fMRI testing to:

Loyola offers state-of-the-art imaging and diagnostic techniques in order to provide timely and accurate diagnosis for our patients. Our expert radiologists are recognized nationally for clinical excellence, innovative diagnostic and therapeutic methods and skilled use of the latest technology. Our experienced technologists provide testing in a caring and compassionate environment where we want you to feel comfortable asking any questions you may have about your test or procedure. 

Why Choose Loyola for fMRI?

As an academic medical center, Loyola provides compassionate, comprehensive care to patients and trains future leaders in advanced imaging technology. Loyola takes a multidisciplinary approach to patient care and provides support services for patients and families. Your entire Loyola healthcare team has one goal: restoring you to better health.

Loyola’s Magnetic Resonance Imaging Center provides specialized diagnostic tools in the evaluation of diseases of the brain and spinal cord, the heart and blood vessels, breasts, internal organs, bones and joints. We provide specialized imaging, including magnetic resonance angiography (MRA), cardiac studies and breast imaging. Examinations are monitored by attending radiologists, in addition to staff radiological technologists and registered nurses who are able to provide all aspects of patient care. 

Electronic images are available to your doctors instantly through an electronic medical record system, allowing us to deliver timely, effective care to our patients. At Loyola, we understand the importance of continuity of care and will provide seamless communication with your doctor through our secure medical information portal, LoyolaConnect. You can also access results from your lab tests and evaluations through myLoyola.

Which Conditions are Detected with fMRI?

Your Loyola healthcare team is experienced in using fMRI technology to diagnose a variety of conditions and diseases. If you or a loved one has been experiencing unusual, concerning symptoms, you want an accurate diagnosis as soon as possible. Loyola’s dedicated team will determine what is causing your symptoms and deliver the highest quality of care—from diagnosis to treatment and beyond. 

We offer the latest fMRI technology for the diagnosis of numerous conditions and diseases:

What to Expect During an fMRI Scan

At Loyola, your fMRI technologist will walk you through every part of the procedure and prepare you for each step before it occurs. We want you to feel comfortable during your test, so let your technologist know if you need anything to make you more comfortable. We are happy to answer your questions and address any concerns you may have. 

Your Loyola fMRI technologist will ask you to remove all metal objects from your body, including jewelry, belts and glasses. fMRI testing is not safe for patients with metal in their bodies—including pacemakers, metal implants, insulin pumps, artificial heart valves and metal chips. 

You will also be instructed not to eat or drink for a period of time prior to your exam. If your doctor has requested that contrast dye be used, it will be provided through an IV in your hand or arm. This will highlight particular areas of the brain and provide a clearer picture. 

The fMRI scanner is a large tube surrounded by a circular magnet, which creates a magnetic field around you. You will lie on a table that slides into the fMRI scanner. fMRI images rely on your ability to be still in order to create clear images. The scanner can be loud; you may hear a loud, intermittent clicking noise during your test. Your technologist will ask you to perform small movements and answer simple questions during the exam. 

fMRI testing is painless, and you will be able to return to your normal activities immediately after your exam is complete. If your exam included contrast dye, you will be instructed to drink plenty of water to flush the dye from your system. From start to finish, your test will likely take one to two hours. 

What are the Risks of an fMRI Scan?

Your Loyola doctor will discuss the benefits and risks of any proposed diagnostic and treatment plan with you. fMRI technology is considered safe in moderation; it is painless and does not use radiation. If contrast dye is used during your fMRI, you may experience a rash or itchiness. The risk of a serious allergic reaction is very low; tell your doctor if you have previously had an allergic reaction to contrast dye. 

Your healthcare team will ensure that your questions are answered and your concerns are addressed prior to any treatment or testing.