Welcome to the Center for Image Acquisition. This page provides general information and answers to common questions for those coming to the CIA as a participant in a research study. The equipment at the CIA allows for a wide range of possible scanning experiences, so for more specific information, please contact the investigator conducting your study.
This video, produced by the American College of Radiology, is a good introduction to MRI scanning.
The Center for Image Acquisition (CIA) is located in the Stevens Hall for Neuroimaging. When using GPS, please use the exact street address listed below -- do not enter "Keck MRI" or "USC MRI," which will route you to the hospital instead of the CIA.
The CIA entrance and loading area are on the San Pablo Street side of the building. Upon arrival, press the "INI" intercom button at the door to be received by staff.
Stevens Hall for Neuroimaging
Magnetic Resonance Imaging Building
2025 Zonal Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90033
Entrance and loading area on San Pablo Street
Large Map with printable link
Parking is available at metered spots on Zonal Avenue, Cummings Street, and San Pablo Street. Visitor parking is also available in the Biggy parking structure (Lot 8) at the corner of Zonal Avenue and Biggy Street, and may be reimbursed by the group conducting your study.
MRI involves absolutely no exposure to harmful radiation.
The magnetic field and radiofrequency (RF) energy used in MRI do not emit any ionizing radiation and do not increase your risk of developing cancer.
MRI can interact very strongly with metals.
The magnetic field and RF energy used in MRI can cause some metallic objects, devices, and implants to move or heat up dangerously while near or inside the scanner. This is the main risk of MRI and can, rarely, result in significant injury or death. For this reason, it is extremely important that you notify us of any metal inside your body, even if it is "non-magnetic," so we can check to make sure you will be safe. You will be asked about metal in or on your body multiple times to ensure your safety. Every MRI scanner is different, so even if you have previously had an MRI elsewhere, please take time to think carefully and make sure you notify us of all metal devices and implants, no matter how minor they may seem. Just before your scan, you will be asked to remove all jewelry, piercings, and accessories and empty your pockets into a locker to make sure that no unknown metal enters the scanner room.
MRI can produce a brief period of dizziness.
Some people momentarily experience a sensation of the room spinning gently while the MRI table is sliding into or out of the magnet. This is normal and ceases within a few seconds after the table stops moving.
MRI can be loud.
We will provide you with earplugs for your comfort and to protect your ears from the noise of the MRI scanner.
|Tips for a smooth MRI experience|
|Unless you have been specifically told otherwise by your research coordinator, please continue to eat, drink, and take any medications normally on the day of your scan.|
|Review our metal screening form (available here) ahead of time -- please contact us before the day of your scan if you realize you have metal in your body that you did not previously discuss with your research coordinator.|
|Avoid clothing with metal on it or in it, such as bras with underwires. Zippers (such as those on jeans) are fine, but chains are not. Try to wear comfortable clothing made of natural fibers, like cotton. Some workout or yoga pants are known to have synthetic fibers that may heat up in the scanner. If clothing is an issue at the time of scan, the CIA provides medical scrubs or hospital gowns (and blankets).|
|Refraining from wearing eye makeup is a good idea. Some mascara, for example, contains tiny bits of metal that can ruin the MR image.|
|Notify the Researcher|
If you have implants
If you are pregnant
If you have tattoos
|For a printable flyer with reminders of these tips and a map to our facility, click here.|
What happens to my information and my scan?
If you were scanned as part of a research study, unless the person conducting your study has elected otherwise, your MRI scans will have your personally identifying information removed and then will be sent to the USC Laboratory of Neuro Imaging (LONI) for long-term storage in a secure database. Your data will be labeled with a coded research identifier, not traceable back to you, to protect your identity. The researchers conducting your specific study will be responsible for deciding whether your data will be used for future research, how it will be shared, and in ways it can be used.
Your research scan is not designed to show all abnormalities, and many diseases will be undetectable on your research MRI – it is not a substitute for medical care; if you are worried about your health, please see a medical doctor. Rarely, something abnormal may be visible on a research scan, and this is called an incidental finding. If you are a research subject scanned at the CIA, your scan may be reviewed for incidental findings if the terms of your study specifically require it, but this may not happen for several weeks. Your research coordinator can provide you with additional information.
If you have been referred to the CIA by a physician for a clinical scan, please direct any questions about your scan results to your referring provider.