What is an MRI scan?
MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging. An MRI scanner uses a combination of a strong magnetic field and radio waves to create detailed picture of the inside of your body.
Is it safe?
Yes, the examination is completely non-invasive and does not involve radiation, although you should make sure you check our checklist in ‘What do I need to do before the scan ?’
Can I bring a relative or friend?
Yes, they will only be allowed into the scan room in special circumstances, due to safety reasons and only after they have filled in which shows they are safe to enter the magnetic field.
Please note – Children are not be allowed into the scan room whilst you are having the examination, so you need to make childcare arrangements for them before you come for your appointment.
Do I need an injection?
Some examinations require a small injection of a contrast dye, but you will be informed of this prior to your examination should it be necessary. The dye shows up on the scan and gives us more detailed pictures, particularly of your blood vessels. The injection will be given by inserting a small needle into a vein in your arm or your hand. The injection of the contrast dye will be painless.
The contrast dye contains Gadolinium, which may, occasionally, cause allergic reactions. The most common allergic reactions can present as headaches, nausea and vomiting, sneezing, wheezing, runny nose, eye irritation, itching, hives, skin rash, swelling of the face, mouth, hands, feet or throat, difficulty in breathing, and low blood pressure. Before your scan we will check whether you have had any previous allergies. If you would like more information about the injection, please ask the radiographer before your scan.
What do I need to do before the scan?
Due to the magnetic field used for scanning, safety is very important. To make sure you are safe to have an MRI scan, please inform us if you answer ‘yes’ to any of the following questions:
You do not need to make any special preparations before your MRI scan, unless we advise you to do so. You can continue to eat and drink as normal and take any medication
Please let us know it you:
What happens during my appointment?
You should arrive at least 15 minutes prior to your allocated time.
When you arrive at CMC, please go to the main reception desk on the second floor where you will be registered, and insurance or payment details taken. If you are covered by insurance, please bring your insurance membership number or card.
If you have any previous imaging which is relevant to your examination, then please bring the reports and CD copies of the images if available.
An MRI Radiographer will go through a safety questionnaire with you and thoroughly explain the procedure, giving you a chance to ask any questions you may have.
For safety reasons, you will be required to change into a hospital gown. During the scan your belongings will be kept in secure facilities. Jewellery, including your watch, any clips from your hair and hearing aids if you wear them will need also need to be removed.
Will I be comfortable?
We will make you as comfortable as possible. The scan will not cause any pain, although the machine can be quite noisy.
What happens during my scan?
The Radiographer will ask you to lie on the MRI scanner table and help to make you as comfortable as possible. If this is not comfortable, please tell us, as you will need to keep very still during the scan. It is important that you do not move, or the pictures could be blurred, and the scan will have to be repeated. Once you are positioned correctly, we will move you into the scanner – the part of your body that we are scanning must be in the centre of the machine. For scans of the chest or abdomen, you may be asked to hold your breath for a short while.
When the scanner is working, it makes a loud banging noise We will be give you headphones to wear to reduce the noise. You can listen to music while you are being scanned – so please bring in a CD of your choice! You will also be given a buzzer to press if you need to attract our attention during your scan.
How long will the scan take?
This depends on which part of your body is being scanned and the information that your doctor needs. The radiographer will tell you how long he/she expects your scan to take. Most scans take between 25 minutes to 1 hour.
What happens after my scan?
After your scan, you can carry on with the rest of your day, including eating and drinking normally.
Are there any side-effects?
There are no known side-effects from having an MRI scan.
When will I get the results?
After your MRI scan is complete, the Radiographer will tell you how long it will take for your images to be checked and analysed by a Radiologist and the report sent to your Doctor or Consultant. Routine results are normally available within 24 – 48 hours. If you do not have an appointment to get the results you should contact your Doctor or Consultant to arrange one.