MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) is a form of imaging which uses a strong magnet and radio waves to generate images of the human body. There is no ionising radiation as is used in X-ray and CT scanning. It is particularly used in imaging the nervous and musculoskeletal systems, but also for many other organs.
What can I expect?
On arrival you will be asked to complete a safety questionnaire. This form is available on the website and can be submitted online prior to your appointment. In most cases you will be asked to change into a patient gown. A MRI radiographer will perform the examination and position you on the MRI table. Depending on the body part scanned, a separate receiver coil may be placed on the region being imaged before you are moved into the open bore. The MRI scanner makes a loud knocking sound while the imaging occurs and you will be given earphones or earplugs to wear. You can listen to a radio station of your choice or you may bring a CD. You will also be given a buzzer so you can be in contact with the MRI radiographer at any time.
An injection of MRI contrast may be required in a vein in your arm depending on the type of scan. This decision will be made by the MRI radiologist reporting the images. MRI contrast reactions are very rare. The contrast is of a different nature to that used for CT scans.
The MRI has an opening at both ends of the scanner. Radiology SA has the latest wide-bore MRI technology and many people with mild claustrophobia tolerate the scan quite well, however if you are concerned you should discuss this with your referring doctor who may suggest you take an anxiety-relieving medication beforehand. If so, please take it according to your doctor’s instructions.
Are there any risks from having a MRI scan?
Most people who have a cardiac pacemaker cannot have an MRI due to the strong magnetic field. Some ear implants (cochlear implants), spinal cord/neuro stimulators, aneurysms clips and various other medical devices may not be allowed in the MRI. Therefore further details of the type of implanted medical devices may be required from your doctor. Patients with metallic foreign bodies in their eyes from welding or grinding cannot have an MRI either and patients may be required to have an x-ray to eliminate that possibility. The safety questionnaire you fill out, in conjunction with our highly trained staff, will ensure it is safe for you to have the scan.
There are currently no known long term ill-effects from having a MRI scan. At present there is no clear data with regard the safety of MRI in the setting of early pregnancy.
Please advise the staff at the time of booking if you are, or suspect you are, pregnant.
Booking your appointment
Please call our friendly staff on 8402 0200. You may request a site convenient to you, otherwise the booking staff can suggest your nearest location.
What to bring
- Radiology referral
- Medicare card
- Healthcare / Concession card (if applicable)
- Previous relevant imaging
- Any documents you may have providing specifics of implants in your body (eg pacemaker, rhythm monitor, stimulator, ear implant)
- Other relevant documents
In general no special preparation is required for an MRI examination. Some MRI examinations require you to fast prior. You will be instructed at the time of booking if this will be required. As the scanner produces a very strong magnetic field, non-implanted metallic objects or electronic/mechanical devices cannot enter the imaging room. Details of implanted metallic objects or electronic/mechanical devices will be safety reviewed before you can enter.
A few points to note:
- Dress - You will often be asked to change into gown for your MRI scan.
- Jewellery – Watches and metal jewellery will have to be removed. A locker will be provided for their safe-keeping during the examination.
- Hair and make up – Avoid any metal in clips or bands. Some mascaras are metallic based and are best avoided. They will not cause ill-effects but can interfere with image quality.
- Dental – Dentures may need to be removed prior to scanning.
Please do not wear eye make-up.
No food, drink or caffeine 4 hours prior to the examination.
Most scans take 15-30 minutes per region examined.
Our staff will discuss pricing with you at the time of booking. Radiology SA bulk bills all healthcare and concession card holders for medicare rebatable examinations.
Results will be forwarded to your practitioner.
Your referring practitioner is the primary person responsible for discussing the examination results with you, and any associated implications. They are best placed to explain the findings in the context of your presentation and past medical history.