Why is an MRI so loud
Why do MRI machines make so much noise? This is actually a very common question. Noises associated with MRI machines have been compared to hearing a jackhammer a few feet away. You should be aware that these noises are normal and are not an indication that anything is wrong with the machine, but rather an indication that the machine is doing what it is supposed to.

How an MRI Works

To understand why an MRI is so loud, you need to have a basic understanding of how MRI works. MRI stands for “magnetic resonance imaging.” In the simplest terms, MRI machines use extremely powerful magnets combined with electromagnetic fields, and coils which produce radio waves, to produce detailed images of organs and tissues in your body. MRI machines do not use ionizing radiation and are non-invasive. They are, however, noisy.

The MRI machine is like a high-tech camera for your body, made up of strong magnets, coils, and other components. One key part is the superconducting magnet, which is extremely cold and surrounded by liquid helium. We have different strength magnets, such as 1.5T Tesla or 3T Tesla, at our facilities. To put it in perspective, Earth's magnetic field is only 0.5 gauss, while our MRI magnets are way more powerful.

The Parts of an MRI that Make Noise

When you're inside the MRI machine getting scanned, you hear loud noises, but exactly why is an MRI so loud? These noises come from the coils in the machine, which are like loops of wire carrying electricity. The superconducting magnet is surrounded by sets of coils that create a magnetic field in different directions. The machine uses these coils to pinpoint the exact location of the tissue or organ being scanned.

As the coils rapidly switch between positive and negative electrical currents, they vibrate within the strong magnetic field. This quick movement, which happens in milliseconds, creates a lot of stress on the coils, making them produce loud sounds. This noise is then amplified inside the machine, similar to how sound resonates in a drum.

parts of an MRI

Why do MRI Scanners Make Different Noises?

Well, it's because each type of scan has its own special sound. When the MRI machine takes pictures of your body, it uses different sequences like 2D and 3D T1W, T2W, Diffusion, and more, along with various orientations such as axial, coronal, oblique or sagittal. These different sequences help your doctor see inside your body with different contrasts, angles, and coverage areas. And here's the fun part – each sequence comes with its own unique noise, like a distinct sound signature.

How We Protect Your Hearing in the MRI Scanner

When the MRI is doing its thing, it can get as loud as a construction site. These noises might make you feel uncomfortable, anxious, or even temporarily affect your hearing if we don't take precautions. That's why we always make sure to use ear plugs and headphones (or even both) for patients and anyone hanging out in the MRI room during the scan. Gotta keep those ears protected!

The Real Danger is Not Noise, but Outside Metals

Now that we’ve answered the question “Why is an MRI so loud?” let’s take a look at the real danger. Having metal near an MRI machine can be a very serious problem. The strong magnetic field in the MRI can pull metal objects with great force, posing a risk of injury to anyone nearby. Items like jewelry, watches, and even certain medical implants can become projectiles if they contain metal. Even long wires (such as those in pacemakers) can result in induced currents and heating from the RF magnetic field. It's crucial to follow strict safety guidelines and remove all metal items before entering the MRI room to ensure the well-being of everyone involved in the imaging process. To further educate yourself about MRI Safety, take a look at this video featuring Capital Imaging Services MRI Safety Officer.

Have Questions About Your MRI? Contact Us Today!

At Capitol Imaging Services, we strive to keep our out of pocket costs low for diagnostic exams. For people with unfulfilled health insurance deductibles, that's a major benefit. People can save money without sacrificing the quality of care or technology. We also do our best to educate our patients, answering all your questions about MRIs, as well as Open MRIs, and 3T MRIs. Contact us today with questions or to schedule your MRI.