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MRI uses a powerful magnetic field and radio waves to produce images of the body. It is a non-invasive, painless, diagnostic tool. It occasionally requires preparation such as fasting (you will be advised if this is necessary at the time of making your appointment). Under certain circumstances an injection of contrast media may be required during the scan (after an initial scan, a fine venflon will be inserted into a vein in your arm or the back of your hand, and removed before you leave the scan room, after the next part of your scan).
Contrast media is a colourless dye that is injected into a vein in your arm to highlight the blood vessels and tissues in the body. You are then scanned again after the contrast media has been injected. Contrast media is very safe and excreted from your system in your urine. It does not cause drowsiness and you can eat and drink normally afterwards.
* A blood test may be required before the scan is booked, if contrast is likely to be required. This is to ensure that your kidneys are able to filter out the contrast easily, and is applicable to anyone over the age of 65 years, and / or diabetic.
For most scans you will be asked to change into hospital provided clothing. You should leave your jewellery at home, since you will be asked to remove this and anything metallic before you are scanned. A locker will be provided for you to leave things safely, should you need one, but all items are left at owner’s risk.
A radiographer will accompany you into the scanning room to position you on the scanner table. You will be given headphones and/or ear plugs to mask the repetitive knocking noise that the scanner makes during its operation. You may bring a CD of your choice if you wish, or listen to a chosen radio station. The radiographer can talk to you whilst you are having your scan and put you at your ease. He/she can see you at all times, but cannot remain in the scan room with you. It is important that you remain still as movement will blur the images produced, and may increase the scanning time. On average, a scan of one area will take approximately 30 minutes, two areas up to 1 hour, and so on.
A consultant radiologist will report on the images produced. The report will be sent to the referring clinician who will discuss the results and any further management with you, at a follow-up appointment. We are not able to give any results or discuss the radiologist’s report directly with you. However, the radiological report is normally available to the consultant within one week.