Same day MRI scans with full reporting within 48 hours.
What is an MRI Scan?
MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scanning uses radiofrequency waves and magnetic fields to produce detailed images of the inside of your body. It can be used to scan almost any part of your body and shows soft tissues very clearly.
MRI scanners can be distinguished by the strength of the magnets used in each machine; this is measured in Tesla’s (T). You’ll usually have your scan in a 1.5T MRI or 3TMRI scanner. Other specialised types of MRI scans offered at GenesisCare include:
- mpMRI – mpMRI (or multi-parametric MRI) combines several different images to create more detailed pictures than a normal MRI. This is commonly used for looking at the prostate
- fMRI – fMRI (or functional MRI) measures small changes of blood flow that occur because of brain activity. It can be used to examine the brain’s functionality, look at the effects of a disease on the brain, or guide brain treatment like neurosurgery or stereotactic radiosurgery
Magnetic resonance imaging is a low-risk procedure and most people can receive a scan with no issues.
What to expect from an MRI scan
You will need to lie on a bed which will be moved into the scanner. This may be head first or feet first as it will depend on the area of the body being scanned. Occasionally, an injection may be required ahead of the scan to administer a solution that will help see parts of the body clearer. This will be discussed with you ahead of the scan taking place.
You will usually be given earphones or earplugs to wear as the scanner will make a noise whilst the scan is being taken. However, you will be able to talk to the radiographer taking the scan through an intercom as they will be watching the scanning process on a computer screen in the room next door.
Keeping still during the scanning process is important as it will ensure a clear image can be taken. Depending on the number of scans required and the size of the area that is needed to be scanned, it can last between 15 and 90 minutes.
Most people can have an MRI scan as it is low risk, even pregnant women and babies. However, if you are claustrophobic, the process may make you feel uncomfortable and it is not always possible to use MRI scanning on people with implants, such as pacemakers.
When would we use an MRI scan?
We use MRI scans to help find a suspected tumour, see how big the tumour is, stage the cancer and find out if it has spread. We can also use it to measure blood flow, plan treatments and check how effective treatment has been.
Why do I need an MRI scan?
Your consultant may suggest an MRI scan if the results from an X-ray or CT scan didn’t give enough information.
MRI scanning may also be preferred for your condition. Magnetic resonance imaging is particularly useful for looking at tumours in the:
- Spinal cord
- Pelvis – including for prostate, bladder, uterine and ovarian cancer
What is the difference between an MRI and a CT scan?
MRI and CT scanning are both imaging techniques used to look at cancer, but the main difference between them is the energy that is used to create the image. An MRI scan uses radio waves and magnetic fields, whereas a CT scan uses X-rays.
MRI is useful for showing how well treatment has worked and it is often better than CT at determining how deep a tumour has grown.
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What happens at an MRI scan?
Before your appointment you’ll be asked to complete an MRI safety questionnaire. The magnetism from the scanner could affect any metal that you may have in your body so you’ll need to tell us of any previous operations and if you have any metal implants or electrical devices such as bone pins or a pacemaker. Any further preparations you’ll need will be mentioned in your appointment letter. You can usually eat and drink as normal and continue to take medication prescribed by your doctor unless you’re instructed otherwise.
Occasionally, you may need to have an injection before the scan to administer a special dye called a contrast medium that will help highlight specific areas of your body on the scans. This will be done by injecting the dye into a vein in your arm through a small plastic tube called a cannula. Your radiographer will let you know if you’ll need to have this before your appointment. This injection is not necessary for every MRI scan and you shouldn’t worry if your radiographer decides to use it.
Once you’ve arrived at your appointment, your radiographer may ask you to change into a gown and remove any jewellery or metal objects which may interfere with the scanner. A private changing area and locker for your personal items is provided for your use during the scan.
Once you’re ready to have your scan your radiographer will take you into the scanning room. They’ll ask you to lie down on your back on the couch and will help you into the correct position. This may be head or feet first, depending on the area of the body being scanned.
Your radiographer will leave the room but they’ll be able to see you on a screen for the duration of the scan. You’ll be able to talk to one another through an intercom system and they may give you some specific instructions during the scan.
The couch will move through the scanner and pictures will be taken from different angles. You’ll need to lie as still as you can to ensure a clear image is taken. The scan won’t cause you any pain . The most difficult part is keeping still but we’ll make sure you’re as comfortable as possible before the scan starts. The scanner can make a noise whilst taking images and you’ll be provided with earphones or earplugs to wear.
How long does an MRI scan take?
Depending on the number of scans required and the size of the area that is needed to be scanned, your MRI scan may last between 15 to 90 minutes. Once your scan is finished, your radiographer will come back in the room and help you off the couch. You’ll be able to go straight home.
You’ll usually have to wait for the results of your MRI scan. We will let you know the results as fast as we can so you can have peace of mind or start planning the next steps of your care as soon as possible. In many cases, we’ll be able to provide your results the next day.
How much does an MRI scan cost?
We’re recognised by all major private medical insurers and also offer a range of self-payment options. A GP referral is not always necessary and the cost of an MRI scan starts from £450. Find your nearest centre offering MRI scanning to book an appointment.