What is an MRI Scan?
A Magnetic Resonance Image (MRI) scanner utilises a powerful magnetic field and radiowaves to produce detailed medical images of the body. It provides very high resolution images particularly of soft tissues such as muscles, nerves, joint structures, spinal cord and the brain. Unlike some other forms of imaging, MRI does not use ionising radiation (x-rays).
In general there is no preparation necessary for a MRI scan. You can eat and drink normally and continue to take any regular medication. There are no known health risks from MRI scanning.
Patients with certain types of metallic implants and mechanical or electronic devices are precluded from entering the MRI scan room, as the strong magnetic field can pose a danger to these patients.
You will be asked to complete a safety questionnaire to determine if you have devices such as a pacemaker, neurostimulator or cochlear implant as most of these prohibit patients from having a scan. Some artificial heart valves and aneurysm clips may also preclude you from entering the scan room. If you have any of these devices or implants, our staff will discuss this with you further to determine if it is safe for you to undergo a MRI scan.
Fowler Simmons Radiology has the latest GE Healthcare wide bore MRI scanner. These scanners are wider and shorter than conventional MRI scanners making the procedure more tolerable for those patients who are anxious or suffer from claustrophobia. If you have concerns, please contact our office prior to your appointment so we can discuss options which may help make your scan a more comfortable experience.
Prior to your scan you will be asked to change into a patient gown to allow us to capture the best possible images and to avoid any interference or hazard posed by metal objects in or on clothing. You will be asked to remove all metal objects, including jewellery and watches and these will be left outside the room along with keys, phones, wallets etc. This is because they may either be pulled with great force through the magnetic field, or they could contain conductive materials that have the potential to heat up during the scan.
MRI scans are a painless, easy procedure. The scanner is a large, wide tube which is open at both ends. The Radiographer looking after you will explain the procedure prior to the scan commencing. Depending on the body part being examined, there may be a piece of equipment (coil) placed around the relevant area. The body part under examination will be advanced into the middle of the scanner. At Fowler Simmons Radiology we are able to scan most body areas with the patient feet first in the scanner. Once the scan is underway, you will hear very loud knocking noises and you may even feel the machine vibrate. You will be given headphones or earplugs to help dull the noise of the scanner. If you are provided with headphones you will be able to listen to a FM Radio station of your choice. You may like to bring your own CD or iPod/iPhone which can be connected from outside the scan room. Most examinations take approximately 20 minutes, but with various pre- and post-procedural steps, it is best to allow 45-60 minutes for your appointment.
The Radiographer performing the examination will ensure you are comfortable. They can see you at all times and can communicate with you via an intercom. As an additional safety measure, you will be given a buzzer which you can squeeze if you feel uncomfortable, at which time the Radiographer will stop the machine immediately and attend to you.
Some patients may require an injection of MRI dye (contrast); the substance used is called Gadolinium and is extremely safe. Depending on the examination, the contrast may be administered intravenously or injected directly into a joint space. Often your referring Doctor will request this, but usually the Radiologist will decide whether you will benefit from having an injection of contrast. As with all medical procedures there are associated risks; however reactions to this dye are extremely rare and usually very mild. You will be assessed by our staff as to your suitability for the contrast injection and they will happily answer any questions you may have.
Your images will be given to you on completion of your examination. The images will be analysed by a Radiologist and the results will be sent through to your referring Doctor or healthcare professional.
Things we need to know from you
Note to female patients: If you are pregnant, or suspect you may be, or if you are breast feeding please advise us before your appointment.
Important things you must bring to your appointment
- A referral from your healthcare professional
- Any relevant previous films/x-rays
- Workcover/Motor Vehicle Accident claim details (if applicable) i.e. claim number, name of employer or insurer
Please feel free to contact our staff at any time if you have any questions or concerns on (08) 8229 2100.