What is an MRI scan?

MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging which is a way of taking pictures inside the body without using x-rays. It is suitable for every part of your body, including bones, soft tissues and the brain, and is one of the most advanced imaging techniques used to date. MRI uses a very strong magnetic field which allows doctors to see inside your body in a way previously only possible through surgery.

It is a safe, painless technique with no known risks, provided the safety questionnaire is correctly completed. Please ensure you read the information sent to you in full. Due to the magnet used by the scanner, people with certain types of medical implants or devices may not be able to be scanned. Some examples: people fitted with a pacemaker, some types of head surgery, certain metal implants or if there has ever been any injury to the eyes involving metal fragments.

An early diagnosis can be one of the best forms of treatment, which is why we offer same-day MRI scans with reports returned from our specialist consultants within two working days. 

What happens during an MRI scan?

How does the MRI scanner work?

An MRI scanner is a large, hollow cylinder open at both ends. A strong magnetic field and radio waves are used to create images of organs and other structures inside you.

A ‘receiving device’ like an aerial, may be placed behind or around the part of the body being examined. This detects the tiny radio signals emitted from the body during the scan.

How long does a scan take?

The time taken for the scan will vary depending on what is being scanned but on average can take 20 to 40 minutes.

Is the scan noisy?

The MRI scanner will make loud and unusual noises whilst taking your pictures. Earphones and/or earplugs will be given, and music may be available.

I have a medical implant. Can I still have an MRI scan?

Yes, but please let us know beforehand. The MRI scanner uses a powerful magnet so people with certain types of medical implants or devices may not be able to be scanned. Please remove all metal from your body including loose change from your pockets.

What happens if I need to stop my scan?

You will be given a call bell whilst having your scan. Should you need to stop simply squeeze this and a member of staff will be straight in.

Is it comfortable?

We will use pads, cushions and supports to help make you more comfortable for the scan. It is important to be as comfortable as possible from the beginning to help you keep still throughout.

Can I speak to a member of staff during my scan?

Yes, there is an intercom in the scanner so you will be able to talk to the MRI operator between scans.

Why would you need an MRI scan?

Through our referral process our dedicated team will determine whether an MRI scan is the right course of action for you. But if you suffer with any of the following an MRI may be the best way to diagnose an illness and ensure you receive the best possible care. 

Head 

Do you suffer from headaches, dizziness, strange sensations or paralysis? Possible causes found through MRI include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Space Occupying Lesions
  • Aneurysms
  • Trauma
  • Contusions
  • Bleeds

Spine

An MRI would help find possible causes of sciatica, back pain, injury, scoliosis, or paralysis.

Possible causes found through MRI are:

  • Disc herniations or disease
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Fractures
  • Osteoporosis
  • Facet joint disease
  • Degeneration 

Pelvis

Issues with your prostate, fibroids, ovarian disease, arthritis, bursitis, groin issues, gynae problems and unidentified hip pain can be diagnosed with MRI. Possible discoveries may be: 

  • Gynaecology pathology (ovarian cancer, fibroids, endometriosis)
  • Prostate cancer

Musculoskeletal problems such as:

  • Arthritis
  • Bursitis
  • Femoroacetabular impingement around the head and/or neck of femur
  • Sacroiliac joint problems

Abdomen

Abdominal pain can involve the liver, kidney and pancreatic pathologies. If this has become an issue for you, an MRI scan may be able to identify: 

  • Gallstones
  • Cirrhosis 
  • Tumours

Limbs

If you suffer from any limb trauma, pain, or restriction of movement, an MRI scan may be able to diagnose: 

  • Fractures or stress fractures
  • Inflammation
  • Muscle tears
  • Joint Issues
  • Cartlidge issues

What happens after the MRI scan? 

Your Results:

Please contact your referrer for your results and further information. Results usually take a few days to be processed but our staff will advise you on the day as to how long you will need to wait. 

After your scan

  • There are no after effects from the scan. You can return to your normal activities as soon as the scan is over.
  • The images from the scan are studied by a Consultant who will prepare a written report to send to your referrer.​​​​​​
  • If anything needs urgent attention, you will be contacted immediately.

We are always keen to hear feedback and have patient feedback forms available.

If you have any further questions please speak to a member of staff who will be happy to help.

You will receive a disc with the images of your MRI scan (unless your scan was performed on a mobile unit and the images will be posted to the patient by recorded delivery). Your referrer will also receive a copy of the report and images of the scan.

Throughout the process our highly trained staff are on hand to answer any of your concerns or queries, so if you have a question at any point, just ask and they will be more than happy to help.

 ​​When should an MRI not be done?

Due to the powerful magnetic field of an MRI scan, certain individuals cannot be scanned. A patient must not have an MRI scan if they have:

  • A cardiac (heart) pacemaker
  • Clips in the head from brain operations, ie aneurysm clips
  • A cochlear (ear) implant
  • A metallic foreign body in the patient’s eye
  • A programmable shunt for hydrocephalus (fluid on the brain)
  • Or are pregnant.
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