Cochise Oncology

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How Long Does an MRI Take?

Has your oncologist told you that you might need an MRI? If so, you’ll want to read this post. In it, we discuss what MRIs are, why people get them, and some of the benefits they offer.

Mri Tucson

What is an MRI?

MRI stands for “magnetic resonance imaging.” It’s a technique that takes pictures inside your body using a combination of powerful magnets, radiowaves and computer software. Doctors typically use MRIs to identify possible diseases and check your response to treatment. Critically, MRI scans don’t use ionizing radiation (as x-rays do) protecting your cells. 

Why Do People Get MRI’s?

Patients get MRIs at Cochise Oncology for a vast array of reasons. The purpose of the scan depends on the area of the body being imaged.

  • Bones and joints: Scans of these areas check for herniated disks in the spine, problems with nerve signal transmission, bone infections, joint damage and cancer. 
  • Heart and blood vessels: These scans look for heart disease, issues with the structure of the heart, blocked blood vessels, and scarring
  • Brain and spinal cord: These scans identify conditions such as multiple sclerosis (MS), stroke and cancer. They also look for inner ear disorders, eye problems and blood vessel injuries. 

Because MRIs are a generic technique, the list of possible uses for them is long. So, in addition to the above use cases, Cochise Oncology’s physicians will often recommend MRIs for people with breast, liver, pancreatic, prostate and kidney cancer as well. 


Simply fill out the form on this page to request an appointment and one of our knowledgable team members will reach out to you. Or call our Sierra Vista oncology center to schedule directly at (520) 803-6644.

How Long Will an MRI Take?

How long an MRI scan takes depends on the area of the body your doctor wants to study. Brain MRIs usually take between 12 and 20 minutes to complete, whereas a breast MRI can take up to 45 minutes. 

MRIs take a long time to complete because they take many hundreds of images of your tissue in slices. They then build this up into a three-dimensional representation that doctors can study.

Factors that affect MRI duration include: 

  • The number of images required for a detailed analysis: MRIs take less time to complete if doctors require fewer images
  • The use of contrast dyes: Sometimes, you’ll receive a dye administered through an IV drip to make internal structures easier for doctors to see. These typically increase scanning time by 10 to 15 minutes
  • Any sedatives given: For instance, if you have claustrophobia, doctors may prescribe a sedative to help you relax during the procedure. 
  • The part of your body being scanned: Larger areas take longer. 

Benefits of MRI Testing

The main benefit of MRI testing is that it provides greater soft tissue contrast than many other types of scan, including CT scans. For instance, it can tell the difference between water, fat, muscle and many other tissues, providing a resolution that most other imaging techniques cannot. Furthermore, it does not involve sending vast quantities of ionizing radiation through the body, which makes it safer to use long term. 


*Individual Results May Vary


At Cochise Oncology, we know optimal cancer treatment places the patient first – and our patients experience this every day. Read what our satisfied patients are saying about their experiences at Cochise Oncology.

Take the Next Step

Are you ready to learn more about MRI treatments? Reach out to Cochise Oncology at (520) 803-6644 or fill out the consultation form on this page. We look forward to meeting you!

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