Frequently Asked Questions

What is an MRI?

The letters MRI stand for magnetic resonance imaging. This is an advanced medical imaging technique, which uses a powerful magnet and radio waves to build up pictures of various tissues, organs and bony structures inside your body.

How does it work?

The radio waves stimulate water molecules to emit signals which are interpreted by a computer to produce two and three dimensional images or slices, which show the difference between normal and diseased tissues. This helps the doctor to make a diagnosis or monitor many different types of medical conditions.

Many of these conditions cannot be demonstrated by an x-ray or ultrasound so to help make a diagnosis an MRI scan is essential.

What part of the body can be scanned?

Any part of the body. The scan can demonstrate abnormalities in the:

  • Brain
  • Spinal Cord
  • Abdomen
  • Chest, including breasts
  • Pelvis
  • Joints
  • Blood vessels
  • Organs such as kidneys, liver, spleen and gall bladder
  • Ear, nose and throat
  • Heart and heart valves

Is MRI a safe investigation?

An MRI is a very safe investigation and provided there are none of the contraindications mentioned below, there are no known reasons why anyone cannot have an MRI scan.

There are no potentially harmful rays to worry about such as those produced by x-rays or a CT scan.

What are the contra-indications of an MRI scan?

  1. If you have a heart pacemaker.
  2. If you have had your heart valves replaced by metal ones.
  3. If you have aneurysm clips in your brain.
  4. If you have ever had metal fragments in your eyes.
  5. In the first three months of pregnancy.
  6. If you have a cochlear implant or an ocular implant.
  7. If you have shrapnel or bullet wounds.

Although there are no known effects of an MRI scan on pregnancy, scans are avoided in the first three months of pregnancy.

Safety Questionnaire

Before your scan you will be asked to fill in a safety questionnaire. It is most important that you answer all the questions accurately.

What preparation will I need?

Usually there is no preparation required for an MRI scan and you may eat and drink normally before and after the scan, unless you have been told otherwise.

Occasionally an injection of contrast medium (dye) may be given into a vein during the scan. This will provide extra information and assist the Radiologist with his diagnosis. As with all medication, a very small number of patients may be allergic to the contrast medium.

What happens before a scan?

Before you have your scan, the Radiographer will carefully explain the procedure to you.

After changing into the provided suitable clothing and removing any jewellery or metal objects you will be comfortably positioned on the MRI table, which will then move into the magnet and the scan will begin.

What happens during a scan?

The scanner produces a variety of loud noises, caused by the rapid switching of the gradient coils (magnetic coils), creating a vibration. These coils measure the signal coming from your body in order to create the images.

You will be given earphones or earplugs to reduce the noise and you will also be given a choice of music to listen to.

How long does an MRI scan take?

The MRI scan usually takes in the region of 20 minutes but occasionally can be up to an hour depending on the number of areas scanned. All of this will be discussed with you before the scan. During the scan, the Radiographer will be able to see you from the Control Room and you can talk to each other through an intercom. You will be given a call button to press if you need to make contact.

What happens after the scan?

You will usually be able to go home immediately. The Radiologist will then examine your scans and forward the report to your doctor a few days later.

Your doctor will tell you the results and discuss these with you.

Where can I get help or advice?

Please telephone the Worcestershire Imaging Centre on 01905 771500 and ask to speak to a Radiographer if you need any help or advice. They will be only too pleased to assist you.

What happens if I can’t keep my appointment?

If you cannot keep your appointment, please contact the MRI centre immediately on 01905 771500.

How much does an MRI scan cost?

Most insurance companies will cover the cost of an MRI scan.

Uninsured patients who are self-paying will be charged the following:
For a single scan with payment on the day and paid by either a debit card or cash the cost will be £235.00.

This includes the Radiologist’s/Specialist’s Report.

Do I need authorisation?

Patients should check with their insurance company prior to their scan as it is essential to obtain an authorisation number, which will entitle them to have the scan.

Without the authorisation number, we cannot proceed.

Special prices can be negotiated with NHS trusts, sports clubs, GPs and physiotherapists.

How do I arrange an MRI scan?

If you think you would benefit from having an MRI scan you will need a written referral from one of the following:

  • GP
  • Consultant
  • Physiotherapist
  • Chiropractor
  • Osteopath