(Magnetic Resonance Imaging)
What is an MRI Scan?
Using a strong magnetic field and radio waves, the MRI machine looks in detail at specific parts of the body, including soft tissue, bone, fat, muscles and internal organs. The imaging it produces is very detailed, which can help your radiologist make an accurate diagnosis. MRI is considered to be very safe. It doesn’t use x-ray and is painless.
If you need an MRI scan, here's everything you need to know.
Before your scan
When you make your appointment, our booking team will give you a rundown of everything you need to know. For example, you may need to fast beforehand (avoiding any food in the hours prior), or arrive a little early.
In the MRI, you’ll be lying down in an enclosed space. If that’s likely to make you uncomfortable, please let us know. We can organise some medication to help you feel more comfortable. Unless you’ve been asked not to, you should continue eating and drinking normally and take all your usual medications.
Please avoid wearing makeup or hairspray. These often contain tiny metal particles that can reduce the quality of your images. You might also like to leave valuables like your watch, jewellery and cell phone at home.
Please also remember to bring your completed doctors referral form with you, if this has not already been sent to us. This will ensure the branch reception has all the necessary information required so our expert team can provide you with the best care possible.
On the day of your appointment
When you arrive, please check in with reception. We’ll make sure your details are correct, and give you two forms to complete. You will be given a gown to change into and asked to remove most of your clothing, including glasses, jewellery, watch, hearing aids and hairpins. You’ll lie on a comfortable table, which we’ll move to get you in the right position for your scan. Sometimes you might also have an antenna positioned on your body, which shows the machine where to focus.
Once you’re all set, the radiographer will move into another room – you can talk to them at any time over the intercom. You’ll then slowly slide into the scanner. It might feel a little daunting at first, but remember that MRI is safe, and we’ll be on hand to make the experience as pleasant as possible. We can play your favourite music in the scanner, and fans keep the air fresh and breezy. There’s also a button you can push to stop the whole thing – you’re in full control.
During the test, the MRI technologist will take a number of images from all different angles, so it’s important to stay as still as possible – this will help make sure your images come out clear, so our radiologists can properly interpret them. As the machine takes images, you’ll hear loud knocking noises – this is totally normal and hearing protection will be provided to you. Depending on your scan, you may be asked to hold your breath. You may also be injected with a dye, called a contrast medium, which makes scans easier to read. This dye has been used in medicine for many years; it’s very safe and you won’t have any after-effects from it.
After your scan
If you’ve been sedated for your MRI, you may need to wait a while before leaving the clinic. You’ll also need someone to pick you up afterwards. If you haven’t taken anything, you can go about your day immediately.
Your report will usually be available to your referrer within two working days.
Who can't have an MRI?
While MRI is very safe, it may not be appropriate for people with various conditions, or implants. While you’ll probably still be able to have the scan, it’s important to let us and your referring doctor know if you have any of the following:
• Cardiac pacemaker
• Metal in your eyes
• Cochlear implants
• An artificial heart valve
• Cerebral aneurysm clip
• Infusion pump
• Contrast allergy
Where can I get an MRI?