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You may feel nervous about your MRI scan, but we don’t want you to worry. Our experienced staff are friendly and approachable, and can answer any questions that you may have regarding the scan. We’re here to help and guide you through the diagnostic process.
What is an MRI scan?
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.
Health concerns in which MRI may be used include:
- brain and spinal cord conditions
- tumours, cysts and other anomalies in parts of the body
- breast cancer screening for women at high risk
- certain heart problems
- joint injuries – knee, shoulder, back, for example
- liver disease and other organs in the abdomen (stomach, gallbladder, intestines)
- investigating pelvic pain in women.
There are no known side effects of an MRI scan, and it is normally a pain-free procedure. Some people may not be able to have an MRI scan. To make sure you are safe to scan please contact us on the number on your appointment letter if any of the following applies to you:
- 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.
Preparing for your MRI scan
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. If you’d like to bring a friend or family member for support, that is no problem but they may not be able to stay with you during the scan dependent on the procedure and safety screening. Children will not be allowed into the scan room while you are having the scan..
At your appointment, you will meet your Nuffield Health 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.
- You will be lying down on the scanning bed for around half of this time
- For some scans, we can play you music while you are in the scanner
- Before you come to us, you can eat and drink as normal and take any prescribed medicine you’d normally take unless you have been given written instructions not to
- 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
- During the procedure, you will be inside the scanner
- If you suffer from claustrophobia, you may find this uncomfortable
- Please contact us on the number on your appointment letter if you think claustrophobia may be a problem for you as there may be other options available, depending on the type of scan, and area to be scanned
- When you arrive for your appointment at Nuffield Health we’ll check your name, date of birth and address
- Don’t forget to bring the completed safety questionnaire with you
- Your Radiographer will check this with you, as well as explain the scanning procedure
- If necessary, your Radiographer may ask you to change into a gown for the scan and remove any jewellery
- The scans take approximately 30 minutes for each area that you are having scanned.
May we have your permission?
At your appointment, we will ask you to sign a consent form to show that you agree to the procedure and fully understand what will happen. You are free to ask any questions you want, to ensure that you are comfortable with everything before you sign.
What happens during an MRI scan?
- 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
- If you feel claustrophobic during the scan, you should tell your radiographer immediately
- You will also be given a buzzer to hold which you can press to stop the scan if necessary
- 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 required to wear earplugs
- 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 may be needed to ensure that we get the clearest scan. This depends on the area being scanned and what we need to see
- There is a small risk of an allergic or a minor reaction to the injection. Our medical teams are trained to deal with this if it happens. If you have any concerns about this, please contact us on the number on your appointment letter.
How long will it take to get the results of my MRI scan?
A Radiologist will examine the images from your scan, and the results will be available within a few days. While you’re waiting for the results, you’ll be able to go about your normal activities.
You can book an appointment with your doctor or healthcare professional who referred you to us to get the results of the scan.