What are the limitations?

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High-quality images are assured only if you are able to remain perfectly still or hold your breath, if requested to do so, while the images are being recorded. If you are anxious, confused or in severe pain, you may find it difficult to lie still during imaging.

A person who is very large may not fit into the opening of a conventional MRI machine.

The presence of an implant or other metallic object sometimes makes it difficult to obtain clear images and patient movement can have the same effect.

Breathing may cause artifacts, or image distortions, during MRIs of the chest, abdomen and pelvis. Bowel motion is another source of motion artifacts in abdomen and pelvic MRI studies. This is less of a problem with state-of-the art scanners and techniques.

Although there is no reason to believe that magnetic resonance imaging harms the fetus, pregnant women usually are advised not to have an MRI exam unless medically necessary.

MRI may not always distinguish between cancer tissue and edema fluid.

MRI typically costs more and may take more time to perform than other imaging modalities.