What is an MRI scan?
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a type of scan that uses strong magnetic fields and radio waves to produce very detailed, three-dimensional images of the inside of the body. This examination can be used alongside other medical imaging, such as an X-ray, ultrasound or CT scan, or used alone.
An MRI scan does not use X-ray beams and has no known harmful effects. An MRI scanner is a large tube that is open at both ends. Patients lie inside the tube during the examination.
How do I prepare for the examination?
Before the examination, you will be asked to:
- go to the changing rooms and change into the gown you have been given
- remove any metal objects from your body (dentures, jewellery, etc.)
- inform our staff if you have any metal implants from previous surgery or if you think you have metal in your body from an accident
Contrast medium (no iodine)
In order to improve the quality of the images, you may need to use a special dye, also called contrast medium. This can be administered in two ways:
- in the form of an intravenous injection at the elbow (most common route)
- in the form of a drink
The contrast medium is usually well tolerated.
What will happen during the examination?
A highly-experienced radiographer will ensure that you are lying comfortably in the correct position on the MRI scanner table. A special antenna is placed near the area of your body that will be scanned and then the table will slowly and automatically move into the scanner.
Your cooperation is required at all times to ensure the best-quality images are produced. It is very important that you stay as still as possible and listen carefully to the instructions given by the radiographers.
Will I feel anything?
An MRI scan is a painless procedure, however, the loud banging noise made by the scanner can be unpleasant. We will give you a special helmet or some earplugs to help reduce the noise.
In order to ensure our patients have the most comfortable experience possible, we are proud to be able to offer you a state-of-the-art system that projects relaxing images onto the walls of the examination room and we can also play music into the special helmet. The radiographer will operate the scanner from the control room and he or she will be able to see and hear you at all times; you will be able to communicate through an intercom system.
How long will the examination take?
An MRI scan takes between 20 and 60 minutes, depending on how long it takes to generate the most detailed images.
Who will give me the results?
Once you have had your MRI scan, a radiologist will interpret the images and send a report to your doctor as quickly as possible. In most cases, the radiologist will not be able to make a diagnosis immediately after the examination.
As soon as your doctor receives the report from the radiologist, he or she will discuss the results with you and decide the most appropriate treatment for your medical condition.