MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) combines magnetic fields and radio frequency waves to generate detailed images of various body parts including internal organs, blood vessels, joints, muscles, ligaments, soft tissue and bone.

Overview

Producing cross-sectional images of the body, MRI’s utilise a combination of radio waves and strong magnetic fields. This advanced diagnostic technology provides information which cannot be obtained using CT, x-ray or ultrasound. To aid in enhancing the clarity of some internal structures or irregularities, the administration of a contrast agent may be necessary.

MRI is unique in that it uses strong magnetic fields rather than ionising radiation to generate images. Although precautions must be taken around magnetic fields the strength of those in MRI machines, temporary exposure to such fields are not linked to any known harmful side effects.

MRI Preparation

When attending your appointment, please bring your referral from your medical practitioner, Medicare card and all other relevant health care cards, and any existing films or reports relating to the region being scanned. To allow adequate time to conduct the procedure, please ensure you arrive on time for your scheduled appointment.

Typically, MRI scans do not require any special preparation however, on occasion, specific preparation for your procedure may be required. Should this be the case, our staff will inform you of the steps needing to be taken, at the time of booking your appointment. The following protocols are an indication of some of the preparation requirements you may be asked to adhere to:

  • Upper abdominal MRI – commonly, fasting for up to 4 hours is required, however, this will be confirmed upon booking as the requirements for each type of upper abdominal scan differs
  • MRCP (magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography) – 6 hour fasting including liquids
  • Musculoskeletal MRI’s – no specific preparation typically required

The strong magnetic field used in MRI machines interferes with metallic objects. It is therefore important to inform your doctor and Marina staff if you have any of the following:

  • Aneurysm clips
  • A pacemaker
  • A neurostimulator
  • Cochlear implants
  • Metal implants
  • An implanted drug infusion device
  • Steel surgical clips or staples
  • Any implant made partially or entirely of iron or steel

If you are, or there is a possibility that you may be pregnant, please inform your referring practitioner and the Marina radiographer.

Before you can be scanned, you will be asked to remove the following items from your person:

  • Jewellery
  • Hair clips and ties
  • Coins
  • Wallet
  • Mobile phone
  • Watches
  • Keys
  • Dentures
  • Partial plates
  • Spectacles

The Scan

Your MRI scan will be performed by one of our highly experienced and qualified radiographers. Prior to your examination you will be asked to complete a safety protocol questionnaire. You will then be asked to change into a gown.

Once preparation is complete, and you are lying on the MRI table, the radiographer will position you according to the part of the anatomy being scanned. Before the MRI table slides into the scanner, the radiographer will place a specialised coil over the region being imaged.

Be prepared to hear some loud knocking noises throughout the duration of the procedure. These sounds are generated when the machine takes an image and are nothing to be alarmed by. To help block the sound created by the MRI you will be fitted with headphones through which your preferred choice of music will be played. You will be able to communicate with the radiographer during your scan via an intercom system and are also provided with an emergency button. An eye mask can also be provided, should this make you feel more comfortable during your scan.

Typically the procedure will last between 15 and 30 minutes, however, may continue for longer when investigating multiple regions. You are required to remain still throughout the scan to ensure clear images can be captured.

To increase the visibility of some body regions or pathology, an MRI contrast may be necessary. Delivered via injection into the vein, consent for the contrast injection will be collected before it is administered. MRI contrasts have been shown to characteristically have little to no side effects.

Your everyday activities can be resumed immediately after your appointment.

Please do not hesitate to discuss with our staff any questions or concerns you may have.

Results

MRI scans produce vast amounts of data. Your referring practitioner will receive the images from the scan immediately via our online portal. Once one of our specialist doctors (radiologist) has reviewed and assessed your scan, the report will be sent to your practitioner either electronically, or by fax.

Following your scan, Marina strongly advises that you return to your physician to discuss your results and subsequent treatment.


Frequently Asked Questions

1How long does an MRI scan usually take?
Most MRI scans take 15 to 30 minutes in duration however this may be longer if multiple regions are being imaged. Movement interferes with the clarity of the images so it is important that you remain still throughout the scan
2Am I allowed to sleep during the scan?
Of course. When taking the images, the MRI machine can be quite loud so, to help block this out, you will be provided with headphones through which your preferred choice of music will be played.
3Is another person allowed inside the MRI scan room?
In some special circumstances, such as extreme claustrophobia, you may be permitted to have a family member or friend accompany you provided that they adhere to and meet all safety requirements.
4Will I feel anything during the MRI scan?
You may experience a slight warming sensation which results from exposure to the radio waves the machine uses. If you find that this causes any discomfort please inform the radiographer.
5How strong is the MRI magnetic field?
The strength of the MRI field is 1.5 Tesla, the same strength of the electromagnets used to pick cars up in scrap yards. Consequently, it is essential that safety measures and protocol are adhered to.
6What if I have claustrophobia?
Please feel free to discuss any qualms you may have with your radiographer. They will work with you to allay your fears and you will be able to communicate with them throughout your scan. To help you relax, you will be able to listen to music of your choice and an eye mask can also be provided.
7Will the radiographer inform me of my results?
You will receive all findings from your scan from your referring practitioner. The responsibility of the radiographer is to perform and produce high quality images for the radiologist to interpret.
If you have any further questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us on 1300 0 XRAYS
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