Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

Get clear, precise images of any part of your body with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) at Johnston Health in Clayton and Smithfield. This type of test uses a powerful magnet and radiofrequency energy (not radiation), so it’s as safe as possible.

Accredited, High-Quality Testing

Trust that Johnston Health has the equipment and staff to provide effective, high-quality MRI care. Johnston Health Clayton Ambulatory Imaging holds accreditation in MRI and breast MRI from The American College of Radiology, which sets national standards for imaging tests.

What to Expect

You’ll lie on a table that moves into a large, donut-shaped MRI scanner. The machine makes a lot of noise, but you’ll receive earbuds to listen to music or earplugs to block sound during the exam. At any time, you can use an intercom to talk to the technician (professional performing your test), who can see you through a window in the exam room.

Expect the test to last 30–60 minutes, depending on the part of the body under examination.

Your Comfort

You’ll appreciate our Clayton facility’s wide bore MRI machine, which has a short “tunnel” so your head remains outside the machine for most exams. If you sometimes feel claustrophobic, share your concerns with our scheduling department when they call you to set a date for the test. Your care team may offer a sedative to relax you before the exam.

Contrast Dye

Before some MRI scans, you may receive an injection of a special dye that makes certain areas of the body show up better. You will not get this injection if you’re pregnant.

Safe Testing if You Have a Heart Device

You may be able to get an MRI scan even if you have a pacemaker or implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD). A cardiologist (heart doctor) must turn off your device before the scan and certify that you can safely receive the test. If you have a heart device, tell Community Wide Scheduling when they call you to set a date for the exam.

How to Prepare

Follow the preparation instructions for your specific exam:

Your doctor may provide additional instructions.


A radiologist will review your images and send a report to your doctor who ordered the test. Expect a phone call from your doctor’s office to discuss the results and next steps.

To check your results in our secure, online patient portal, visit My UNC Chart.

Talk to Your Doctor

If your doctor orders an imaging procedure at UNC Health Johnston, you’ll get a call from Community Wide Scheduling to make an appointment.

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