As part of a routine appointment or a health screen our Doctors may recommend that you have an MRI scan. This will be carried out by one of our partner organisations near our clinic on Harley Street. We use experienced trusted partners who have a range up to date technology operated by radiologists who are the top specialists in the field of view being scanned.
The consultant radiologists we work with use some of the most technologically advanced MRI scanners to provide accurate examinations of the inside of your body.
What is an MRI Scan?
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a type of scan using strong magnetic fields and radio waves to produce high-quality images of the inside of the body. The scanner can be directed on all parts of your body or just a part, including your head. It does not use radiation, and it helps to identify any differences between healthy and unhealthy body tissue. The MRI scanner looks like a large tube that you lie inside. We have access to open MRI scanners for patients who are claustrophobic.
Scans take between 20 and 60 minutes. The procedure is painless, you will need to remain still and you’ll be able to listen to music. The machine makes a loud knocking noise when it’s scanning and you may feel vibrations under your body.
Why might you need an MRI scan?
MRI scanning is commonplace and gives you Doctors the ability to examine the inside of the human body in high detail using a non-invasive technology.
The following are examples in which an MRI scanner may be used:
- anomalies of the brain and spinal cord
- tumors, cysts, and other anomalies in various parts of the body
- breast cancer screening for women who face a high risk of breast cancer
- cancer screening including but not exclsuive to lung cancer, ovarian cancer and prostate cancer
- injuries or abnormalities of the joints, such as the back and knee
- certain types of heart problems
- diseases of the liver and other abdominal organs
- the evaluation of pelvic pain in women, with causes including fibroids and endometriosis
- suspected uterine anomalies in women undergoing evaluation for infertility
This list is by no means complete and the use of MRI technology is always expanding in scope.
What to expect in an MRI scan
There is very little preparation required before an MRI scan.
On arrival at the hospital, doctors may ask the patient to change into a gown. As magnets are used, it is critical that no metal objects are present in the scanner. The doctor will ask the patient to remove any metal jewellery or accessories that might interfere with the machine.
A person may be unable to have an MRI if they have any metal inside their body, such as bullets, shrapnel, or other metallic foreign bodies. This can also include medical devices, such as cochlear implants, aneurysm clips, and pacemakers.
Individuals who are anxious or nervous about enclosed spaces should tell their doctor.
Patients will sometimes receive an injection of intravenous (IV) contrast liquid to improve the visibility of a particular tissue that is relevant to the scan.
The radiologist, a doctor who specialises in medical images, will then talk the individual through the MRI scanning process and answer any questions they may have about the procedure.
Once the patient has entered the scanning room, the doctor will help them onto the scanner table to lie down. Staff will ensure that they are as comfortable as possible by providing blankets or cushions.
Earplugs or headphones will be provided to block out the loud noises of the scanner. The latter is popular with children, as they can listen to music to calm any anxiety during the procedure.
Once in the scanner, the MRI technician will communicate with the patient via the intercom to make sure that they are comfortable. They will not start the scan until the patient is ready.
During the scan, it is vital to stay still. Any movement will disrupt the images, much like a camera trying to take a picture of a moving object. Loud clanging noises will come from the scanner. This is perfectly normal. Depending on the images, at times it may be necessary for the person to hold their breath.
If the patient feels uncomfortable during the procedure, they can speak to the MRI technician via the intercom and request that the scan be stopped.