During a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan a large, powerful magnet, radio waves and an advanced computer are used to take incredibly detailed images of the relevant part of your body. MRI has become widely used because the pictures are so detailed that the radiologist can see even tiny changes. This accuracy helps in the early detection of disease and injury, allowing effective treatment planning.
First - we want to make sure that you are fully informed. Please do call us if you have any questions before your appointment. If certain medical terms aren’t clear, we will happily explain them to you. You may bring a friend or family member for support with you on the day, but it may not be possible for them to attend with you in the scan room.
At your appointment, you will meet the Radiographer - an expert in MRI scanning. Your Radiographer will be with you through the whole process, from explaining the scan and answering your questions beforehand, to performing the actual scan on the day. The Radiographer will check your name, date of birth, address and will also go through the Safety questionnaire that you completed prior to your appointment.
Your appointment time will vary depending on the area you are having scanned and will range from 15 - 45 minutes. Before you come to us, you can eat and drink as normal, and take any prescribed medication you’d normally take. Please wear clothing that has no metallic or plastic parts such as buttons, zips and hooks. If you are wearing an under- wire bra, we may ask you to remove it. If necessary you may be asked to change into a gown for the duration of the scan. This will only be if an article of clothing could interfere with the scan. You may also be asked to remove your jewellery.
During the procedure you will be lying on the table inside the scanner. It is important you lie as still as possible to enable us to achieve the best possible images. Please contact us on the number on your appointment letter if you think Claustrophobia may be a problem for you. There may be other options available, depending on the type of scan, and area to be scanned.
The scanner is a large hollow cylinder, which is open at both ends. The area of your body to be scanned needs to be in the centre of the scanner, so you may enter it head or feet first, and parts of your body may remain outside the scanner. Yow will be given a buzzer to hold which you can press anytime to stop the scan if necessary. If you feel claustrophobic during the scan, you tell the Radiographer immediately.
You will experience no pain during the scan, but some patients feel uncomfortable having to lie still for up to half an hour. You will hear quite loud mechanical sounds from the MRI scanner and will be offered headphones or earplugs to wear. Your Radiographer can see and hear you at all times during your scan and will be able to talk to you throughout the scan using an intercom. For some MRI scans an injection of special contrast media (dye) may be needed to ensure we get the clearest scan. This depends on the area being scanned and what we need to see. A small percentage of people may have a minor reaction to this injection. If you have any concerns about this, please contact us on the number on your appointment letter.
Once you scan is done you will be able to leave and carry out your normal activities. A Radiologist will examine the images and the results will be available within a week.
There are no known side effects of an MRI scan, and it is normally a totally pain-free procedure. Some people should not have an MRI scan. If any of the following applies to you, please contact us on the number on your appointment letter:
- You have a heart pacemaker
- You have had an operation to your brain or heart
- You have any type of metal implant
- You have had an injury to your eyes involving metal fragments
- You are, or might be pregnant
- You have a kidney problem