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What is an MRI Scan?

MRI stands for magnetic resonance imaging and is a type of scan that creates pictures of the body using magnetism and radio waves. MRI scans can produce pictures of the whole body and will give very clear pictures of soft tissue.

They are often used to diagnose:

  • Ailments of the brain
  • ENT conditions (ear, nose and throat)
  • Musculoskeletal problems and sports injuries
  • Spinal conditions
  • Gynaecology problems (female pelvic)
  • Certain abdomen problems (gastrointestinal tract conditions)
  • Vascular abnormalities
  • Prostate issues
  • Soft tissue problems

What happens during an MRI Scan?

Once you have completed your safety questionnaire and received your safety briefing you may be asked to change into a gown, which we will provide. The scan takes between 15 to 90 minutes. You will also have to:

  • Remove any jewellery, including body piercings and your watch
  • Remove your hair clips
  • Empty your pockets of coins, keys and phones

The MRI scanner is a short cylinder (tube) that is open at both sides. You will be positioned on a motorised bed. The Radiographer will make sure you are lying in the correct position on the bed and will talk you through the scan.

Once everything is set up the Radiographer will move to a separate room. You will be able to communicate via an intercom system and they will be able to see you on a television monitor throughout the examination.

You may need an injection of dye (contrast agent) through a small plastic tube (cannula) into a vein in your arm to make certain tissues and blood vessels show up more clearly. The dye is safe but can cause side effects such as; sickness, skin rash, headache or dizziness. These side effects are usually mild and don’t last very long. Tell your Radiographer if you feel unwell at any point during, or after, the scan.

You will need to lie still throughout the examination and your Radiographer may also ask you to hold your breath at times.

What preparation is required for an MRI?

Before your appointment you will be asked to complete a safety questionnaire and guided through a safety presentation by your Radiographer. This will ask about:

  • Any operations you’ve had
  • Whether you have any metal implants or other metals in your body

An MRI scan uses strong magnetism which could affect any metal in your body, including:

  • Pacemakers or an implantable defibrillator (to treat abnormal heart rhythms)
  • Surgical clips, pins or plates
  • Cochlear implants (for deafness)
  • Metal fragments anywhere in your body – for example from an injury, dental fillings and bridges.

You can still have an MRI scan if you have some metals in your body, but your Doctor and Radiographer will decide if it’s safe. You must tell the scanner staff about any metals in your body.

Before your scan you will be asked to make sure you have removed all external metal and electronic items. You will also need to have clean, dry hair with no hair products, and remove all make-up.

Some people feel claustrophobic or closed in when they’re having an MRI scan. Please contact the department before your test if you’re likely to feel like this as the staff can then take extra care to ensure you’re as comfortable as possible.

Please tell the department staff prior to your scan if you think you’re pregnant. MRI scans are generally safe during pregnancy. But as a precaution, you usually won’t have one during the first trimester.

The MRI scanner makes a loud tapping noise so you’ll be given earphones with music or earplugs to wear. You will also have access to an emergency bell in case you need to call the Radiographer/s during the procedure.

What happens after the MRI

Once the scan is complete the images will go through a brief quality check. A Consultant Radiologist reviews the results of your MRI scan and will write a report to pass onto your referring Doctor. You will then be contacted by your referrer to discuss the results. This process can take between one and two weeks.

There are no restrictions on normal activity; you can eat and drink normally, drive and return to work immediately after the scan.

Can I make a private appointment for MRI?

Yes, you can book a private appointment at a number of our clinics. Please contact 0161 929 5679 option 5 or email