Your MRI scan
Your doctor or healthcare professional has recommended an MRI scan because it is the best way for us to make an accurate diagnosis of your condition. You may feel nervous about your scan, but we don’t want you to worry. Our experienced consultants and nurses are friendly and approachable, and can answer any questions that you may have. We’re here to help.
About the scan
A large, powerful magnet, radio waves and an advanced computer are used to take incredibly detailed images of the relevant part of the body. This is called Magnetic Resonance Imaging, or an MRI scan. 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. There are no known side effects of an MRI scan, and it is normally a totally pain-free procedure. Some people should not have an MRI scan. If any of the following applies to you, please contact us on the number on your appointment letter:
- 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 to visit us
We want to make sure that you are fully informed, so 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. At your appointment, you will meet your Nuffield Health radiographer who will be an expert in MRI scanning. They 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.
Your appointment can take up to 40 minutes, and you’ll 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, so you may want to bring a CD with you. Before you come to us, you can eat and drink as normal and take any prescribed medicine you’d normally take. We need to get as clear a scan as possible, so if you can wear clothing that has no metallic or plastic parts, such as buttons, zips and hooks please. 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. There may be other options available, depending on the type of scan, and area to be scanned. You will have received a questionnaire with your letter of appointment, please complete it and bring it with you to your appointment.
On the day
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 questionnaire that you will have filled out before you come. Your radiographer will go through 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. This will only be if an article of clothing could interfere with the scan. You may also be asked to remove your jewellery.
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 the 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 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 may be offered headphones or earplugs to wear. 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. You will also be given a buzzer to hold which you can press to stop the scan if necessary. For some MRI scans, a special 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. A small percentage of people may have a minor reaction to the injection. If you have any concerns about this, please contact us on the number on your appointment letter.
After the procedure
Once the examination is complete you will be able to leave and carry out your normal activities. A radiologist will examine the images, and the results will be available within a few days. You can book an appointment with your doctor or healthcare professional who referred you to us to get the results of the scan.
Questions? Call us
Before you come in, if you have any questions, please feel free to call us on the number on your appointment letter. We are here to help!