MRI Scanning

MRIWhat is an MRI scan?

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is an imaging technique which uses a strong magnetic field to produce high grade pictures of the soft tissues inside your body. Often MRI is used to look at joints, the spine, the brain and the internal organs.

The MRI scanner can produce both two and three dimensional images. An MRI scan is more versatile than simple X rays and is used to examine a large variety of medical conditions.

What happens during an MRI scan?

You will be able to talk to the radiographer throughout the entire examination. They will ask you to lie down upon a comfortable bed which slides through the centre of the MRI scanner. The scanner is shaped like a very short tunnel - it is open on both ends.

During the scan, it is recommended that you lie as still as possible. Slight movement or heavy breathing can affect the clarity of the images being produced.

Please be aware that the scanner can be very noisy. Don’t be alarmed, this is completely normal. We will provide you with headphones to protect your ears. This means you may listen to music during the scan if you would like to.

In some instances it may be necessary for a type of dye called 'contrast medium' to be given as an injection. The dye allows us to see certain parts of the body more clearly. It is completely safe and causes only a warm sensation as it travels around your body.

How long does an MRI scan take?

An MRI scan typically takes around 20 minutes however, depending upon the type of examination it may take longer.

Can I bring someone with me?

Yes, we are happy for a friend or family member to accompany you. However, only in exceptional circumstances do we allow them to accompany you during examination; this is for health and safety reasons.

Are there any side effects?

MRI scans are generally very safe. There are no side effects and the scan causes no discomfort or pain.

However, some people are not able to have an MRI scan. The strong magnetic field created by the scanner can affect metals such as iron, nickel and steel. Before you can have an MRI scan, you will be asked questions about your medical history, operations, allergies and medicines you currently take to make sure the scan is safe for you.

MRI scans are not suitable for women who are under 12 weeks pregnant.

Some patients may be worried about feeling claustrophobic during the scan - this is fairly common. Our team are used to supporting patients to overcome their worries about a scan and, we find that most patients cope very well. We are more than happy for patients to visit our imaging department to familiarise themselves with the equipment, surroundings and staff before their appointment. Many patients find this is a great way to put their mind at ease. To arrange this please contact us.

What happens after an MRI scan?

After your scan, you can go home.


This information is also available on a downloadable patient information sheet.

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