Frequently Asked Questions
What is MRI?
MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance imaging. It is a sophisticated method of producing detailed images of the body’s internal structures.
How does it work?
It is amongst the most advanced imaging technique developed to date. MRI uses a very strong magnetic field & radiowaves and thus avoids the use of x-rays.
Is it safe?
MRI is one of the safest diagnostic imaging methods available with no known risks or side effects to date. However, certain patients may not be safe to scan. If you have, or suffer from any of the following please contact the x-ray department prior to your scan.
1 Have you ever had any metal injuries to your eyes in your lifetime?
2 Do you have artificial heartvalves or a cardiac pacemaker fitted?
3 Have you ever had aneurysm clips fitted?
4 Do you have any medical devices implanted?
5 Do you suffer with claustrophobia?
The Radiographers will go through an in depth medical questionnaire with you prior to the scan to check that you are 100% safe to go into the scanner.
Whilst MRI is certainly safer than most other imaging techniques (because it does not use x-rays) it is still not recommended for women in the first 3 months of pregnancy.
If you have any concerns about safety, please do not hesitate to contact the hospital x-ray department.
How should I prepare for the MRI examination?
On the day of the examination, you may eat, drink & take any prescribed medication as normal (unless otherwise instructed prior to the examination). It will be necessary to reconfirm the safety questionnaire prior to undertaking your examination.
On arrival you will be greeted by a Radiographer. You will be asked to remove any metal objects including hairgrips, glasses, wigs, non-permanent metal dentures, devices attached to your body & all jewellery (apart from gold wedding band). If possible it is best to leave all valuables at home. Watches, mobile phones & credit cards must also be removed as they may be damaged by the magnetic field. All money & other valuables will be locked away for you during your scan.
You may be asked to change into a gown or tracksuit so as to ensure no metal buttons, zips or clips interfere with the magnetic field. It is therefore wise to come dressed appropriately in clothes with NO metallic fastenings.
What happens during the examination?
You will be taken to the scanner where the examination will be explained further. You will be asked to lie down on the examination couch & be made comfortable. It is important that you are comfortable as you must lie perfectly still during the whole examination. Patient movement is the single biggest cause of an unsuccessful scan. The couch will then be raised & the body part that is being examined will be positioned into the centre of the magnet. Once you are in position, nothing else will move or touch you. We require nothing more from you other than for you to remain as motionless as possible.
The examination will usually take between 20 & 30 minutes depending on the area of the body being scanned & the protocol that has been requested by the Radiologist. However, do not be alarmed if your examination takes a little longer. It is sometimes necessary to supplement your examination by the injection of an MRI dye (referred to as a contrast agent). This will help to demonstrate your internal structures more clearly. The injection should not affect you or your ability to drive home in any way.
The MRI examination is very noisy & you will be given ear protectors to reduce the noise level. The scanner is equipped with a music system so, please bring a CD along with you. The scanner has a small selection of CD’s for those with no particular music preferences.
What happens after the examination?
Once the scan is complete, the images will be reported by a Radiologist (a Dr. specialising in looking at MRI images). The report will then be sent on to the clinician who referred you for the MRI.
The results will not be available instantly. Your doctor will be able to discuss the scan results with you & will answer any questions that you may have.