Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have questions about the services that we offer? Below is a list of some frequently asked questions, along with our answers.

Q: What is MRI and how does it work

A: MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging. An MRI scanner allows radiologists to view detailed images in cross-section of certain areas in the body without using interventional techniques or ionising radiation (x-rays). The MRI scanner uses a combination of a strong magnetic field, radio frequency waves and computer technology to produce very clear images of human anatomy and to detect areas of abnormality. The clarity of anatomical detail on MRI imaging is superior to other scanning methods.

Q: Can anybody have an MRI scan?

A: No, due to the strong magnetic field, metallic objects cannot be taken into the scanning room which includes certain implants.

For example, if you have a cardiac pacemaker, you should not have an MRI. There may be certain parts in the pacemaker that may be adversely affected by the magnetic field of the MRI scanner, causing the apparatus to malfunction or cease operating.

Other problems:

Aneurysm clips. These are metallic clips that have been surgically clipped around a bleeding vessel. Some aneurysm clips are MRI safe; some are not. You need to check with the surgeon who installed the clips to be sure the manufacturer has tested it and found it to be MRI safe before booking your MRI.

Other conditions that need to be investigated before an MRI scan can be safely undertaken are:

  • Neurostimulators
  • Metal heart valves
  • Metal Implants
  • Drug Infusion Devices/Pump
  • Ear Implants
  • Inferior Vena Cava filter
  • Metal Objects in Eyes
  • Surgical Staples or Wires
  • Bone or Joint Replacements
  • Metal Plates, Rods, Pins or Screws
  • Penile Implants
  • Shrapnel
  • Pregnancy
  • Vascular Coils and Filters

If any of the above applies to you, be sure to make the staff at the Centre aware well in advance especially when they phone you to make the appointment. You should also tell the doctor who is referring you for the scan, as they will be able to tell you if it is safe for you to have the MRI scan. In most cases you will be able to have the scan, but the decision to go ahead will be made by our clinical staff. On arrival at the MRI Centre you will be asked to complete an MRI Safety Questionnaire which will cover all of the above. – Note: Anyone accompanying the patient into the MRI scanning room is subject to the same issues and will have to complete a Safety Questionnaire first.

Q: What do I have to do to prepare myself for an MRI?

A: The first step is to be certain that it is safe for you to have an MRI scan. If you are not certain, click here.

Preparing for an MRI exam is easy. Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, please take your medications as usual.

There are no food or drink restrictions.

The only unusual preparation for an MRI scan is that all removable metallic objects must be left outside the scanning room. These include jewellery, keys, watches, coins, eyeglasses, removable hearing aids, dentures and prosthetic devices.

Credit cards should not be brought anywhere near the MRI magnet. Since they are magnetically coded, the MRI’s magnet, which is very powerful, can easily corrupt the information stored on them.

Q: Does it hurt? Will I feel anything?

A: There is no pain associated with having an MRI scan. Unlike many other MRI scanners, ours are comfortable and non-claustrophobic. They are also much quieter than ‘tunnel’ MRI scanners.

Q: I've heard that some MRI scanners induce claustrophobic reactions. Do yours?

A: Our scanner is an Open MRI and very patient friendly. There are no tunnels or tubes to go into. Our scanner is comfortable, non-claustrophobic and you can even watch television during your scan. We specialize in scanning claustrophobic patients, and our staff will do their utmost to make you feel at ease.

Q: Will my insurance cover the cost of the MRI?

A: We are approved by most private medical insurance companies. You will need to contact your insurance company before booking the MRI scan and if they agree to cover the cost they will give you authorisation details which you need to bring with you to the MRI Centre

Q: What happens if I cancel my appointment?

A: If you cancel your scan with less than 48 hours’ notice we may charge a cancellation fee of £250. If you cancel your scan with less than 24 hours’ notice we may charge the cost of the scan.

Q: Do I need a doctor’s referral letter for an MRI?

A:  No, we now accept self referrals for MRI. For more information, please click here.

Q: What should I wear? Will I have to wear any special clothing?

A: When it comes to how to dress for an MRI scan, the main thing to be aware of is that metal can degrade or ruin MRI images. Therefore, you should wear comfortable, loose fitting clothing, but keep in mind that metal must be avoided in or near the region where you are going to be scanned. The radiographer may decide to ask you to change into a gown as some modern textile cause interference with the images. All body-pierced jewellery must be removed.If you are having a scan of the head or neck area you should remove all makeup (some makeup has metallic particles in it) and all metallic items such as hair clips, earrings, and facial jewellery. Please notify the radiographer if you have any facial tattoos, such as eyeliner or eyebrow tattoos. Don’t worry. If you do not have suitable clothing, we will give you a gown.

Q: What will happen?

A: Depending on the type of scan your doctor has requested, the radiographer may position a “pad” or “coil” around the region of your body that is to be scanned. This helps to intensify the quality of the images. For example if you are having a head scan, your head will rest in a special head support / coil to ensure the best images are acquired.

Once you are comfortable, the radiographer will start the scan.

At that point, all you have to do is be as absolutely still, as you would in a normal photograph, until the MRI scan is over – the stiller the better. The reason you have to sit still is that movement blurs the MRI images. Depending on what your doctor ordered and the area being scanned, the procedure will take between 45 and 120 minutes, made up of a number of different scan sequences. Each sequence takes a few minutes. The radiographer will be able to tell you how long it should take. You won’t feel anything, but you will hear some low-volume, intermittent, rumbling noises throughout the scan. These sounds are normal. Our scanners are much quieter than ‘tunnel’ MRI scanners which can be very noisy. We are happy to supply earplugs if required.

A microphone will be placed near you so you will be able to speak to the staff at any time during the scan. If you like, someone can be with you in the scanner room, provided it’s safe for the person to be there. A visitor is subject to the scanner’s magnetic field too. So please make sure it is safe for the visitor to be in the scanner room. It is common for a parent to stay with a child. In fact, we encourage it.

Q: How long will it take?

A: That depends on what part of the body is to be scanned and whether or not your doctor has ordered any special or extra scans. Normally, a single part scan takes between 30 and 45 minutes.

Q: Will I be able to drive after I have the exam?

A: Yes. The MRI has no known physiological side effects. However, if you have taken a sedative, there may be some restrictions.

Q: Will I be getting an injection?

A: In certain situations, it may be necessary to inject you with a contrast agent in order for a proper diagnosis to be made. The consultant radiologist will make that decision, and you will be informed prior to your appointment. In our experience, approximately 5 to 10 percent of patients require a contrast agent. For example, MRI exams of regions containing scar tissue from a previous surgical procedure are often best evaluated with the aid of a contrast agent. The contrast agent is injected intravenously into the arm. The procedure is performed by a qualified healthcare professional. There are potential side effects. If you require the contrast agent, you will be made fully aware of possible side effects prior to the injection.

Q: Is it OK to have an MRI if I'm pregnant?

A: Unfortunately we are not able to scan patients who are pregnant. If you think you may be pregnant, please do check before attending the centre.

Q: Can someone else stay with me in the MRI scanner room?

A: Yes. Since our MRI scanners are open, there is ample space for someone to accompany you into the scanner room. The person accompanying the patient will be exposed to the scanner’s magnetic field just like the patient, so please make sure that your accompanying person has filled out a safety questionnaire and is safe to sit in the scanning room.

Q: When will I find out the results?

A: You won’t find out at the time of the scan. The results of your MRI scan will be sent directly to your doctor, normally within 48 hours. In turn, your doctor will explain them to you. Radiographers are not qualified to interpret MRI scan, so please don’t ask them for their opinions.

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