Diagnostic Services

MRI Scan

MRI Scan

Definition:

Magnetic Resonance Imaging uses a strong magnetic field, radio waves and a computer to produce detailed internal pictures of your body. No X-Rays are involved. In basic terms, the magnet makes the hydrogen protons in your body all behave in the same way. The protons are excited by a radio frequency pulse, this pulse is then switched off and the protons emit extra energy. An antenna receives these signals and a computer produces an image.

Any part of your body can be imaged to assist in the diagnosis of your medical condition.

At The Wellington Diagnostics and Outpatients Centre one of the most technically advanced MRI scanners is available to our referrers and patients. The Siemens MAGNETOM Espree 1.5T Open Bore MRI scanner takes its inspiration from the blueprint of a CT scanner to provide comfort and quality. The opening of the Espree, more than 70 cms in diameter, provides a full foot of space above the patient's head- much more than traditional MRI scanners. Its extremely short bore enables many examinations to be performed with the patient's head completely outside the magnet bore.

Preparation:

For the majority of examinations no preparation is required. You may continue to eat and drink and take your medication as usual. If any preparation is required a member of staff will contact you with instructions.

In many cases, you can have your MRI scan performed while wearing your own clothes. However, we must ensure that none of your clothing or accessories contains any metal that could be attracted to the magnet and interfere with your scan.

For your own safety and convenience, we ask that you observe the following rules:

  • Wear comfortable clothes without metal zippers, safety pins, studs or buckles.
  • Remove any metal containing objects such as, jewellery, hairpins, hearing aids, glasses, wigs, watches etc.
  • Empty your pockets of all loose items such as money, coins, credit cards, mobile phones, keys, pens etc.

If your clothes are unsuitable a hospital gown will be provided.

Dressing rooms and lockers for valuables are available in the MRI Department.

The Scan Itself

For the majority of scans you will be required to lie on your back on a padded table, which moves into the magnet opening. An explanation will be given to you with an approximate time for the length of the scan. You will be given an alarm button to hold. In an emergency you may press this button to alert the Radiographer. The scan will be stopped and you will be removed from the scanner immediately.

In most cases you will be given headphones through which you can listen to a choice of music from our selection. This is to eliminate some of the noise the scanner makes while it is taking images.

Feel free to bring along any CD's you wish to listen to. Earplugs will be provided for those examinations where wearing headphones is not appropriate.

You will be able to talk to the Radiographer when you are in the scanner via an intercom system. The Radiographer will talk to you via this intercom.

It is extremely important that you keep still while you are being scanned. Any movement will blur the images and the scans may need to be repeated.

Once the scans are complete you will be moved away from the machine and you will be free to collect your belongings and leave the department.

NOTE: Some procedures will require a small injection of contrast into a vein in your arm (similar to a blood test). This technique provides more detailed information on the images. You will be informed of this before the scan is started.

Obtaining the Results:

Your MRI Scan will be interpreted by a Consultant Radiologist who specialises in MR Imaging. This is usually done on the day of your scan. The report and the images are sent to your referring clinician the following day. You will be contacted by your referring clinician in due course to discuss the findings of this procedure.

Contraindications:

Contraindications are reasons why an MRI Scan may not be undertaken. There are several medical conditions or metallic devices that may be in the body that make MRI scanning unsuitable, for example:

  • A Cardiac Pacemaker
  • Aneurysm Clips
  • Metallic foreign bodies (particularly in the eyes)
  • Cochlear Implants
  • Neurostimulators
  • Pregnancy

All of the above make the use of powerful magnetism impractical and unwise. However, stainless steel prostheses such as hip or knee joint replacements, spinal and intramedullary nails and some heart valves can be imaged safely.

If you have any of these devices or conditions please contact a member of staff at the MRI Unit to discuss whether it is possible for you to undergo the examination.

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