“3T MRI services are offered at our Fairfield Practice.”
What Is MRI?
MRI, or Magnetic Resonance Imaging, involves the use of high strength, time varying magnetic fields to create images of the body’s internal structures. It is excellent at providing high resolution imaging of soft tissues, and is widely used for bone and joint, brain and spine, and abdominal and pelvic imaging.
At Direct Radiology we have invested in market leading MRI technology in the acquisition of a Philips Ingenia 3T scanner. This scanner operates at the highest field strength allowed for clinical scanning, and has direct digital technology allowing us to scan at a higher resolution, more quickly. It also utilizes a 70cm opening, which is 16% larger than a conventional MRI. This design increases comfort, and decreases the feelings of claustrophobia some people experience.
How to prepare for MRI
This depends on the area being examined. Some MRI exams will require you to have fasted for 6 hours beforehand but most require no specific preparation at all. It is best if you wear comfortable clothing without metal clips and zipper, as otherwise we may need to have you change into a gown.
Before your scan you will need to remove all metal items from your body including keys, wallet, phone, watch, bobby pins, hearing aids and jewellery. We provide secure lockers so you can be sure that your personal items will be safe.
When you book your MRI you will be asked some safety questions. While MRI is a very safe test to have, the use of high strength magnetic fields means that some medical implants, such as pacemakers, cochlear implants, stents and aneurysm clips, and other devices in or on your body can be affected by having an MRI. As such it is important that you answer the questions accurately and to the best of your knowledge. We may need to follow up on the information you give us with your doctor to ensure you can have the scan safely. If your safety within the magnetic field cannot be assured, we will discuss with your doctor alternative imaging methods.
It is best if we can receive a copy of your MRI referral letter before your appointment. This ensures we are able to perform the most appropriate scans to give you the most accurate diagnosis. Please bring to your appointment all previous imaging as the radiologist (the specialist doctor interpreting your scan) will use these for comparison purposes.
How will the test be performed?
You may need to get changed into a gown for the MRI due to metal in or on your clothes. You will be escorted to the scanner and be asked some questions that help us ensure we do the correct scan on the correct patient.
Once inside the magnet room, our radiographer (the trained medical imaging technologist performing the scan) will ask you to lie on the scan bed. They will place a “coil”around the part to be imaged. The “coil” acts like an antenna picking up the signal allowing the pictures to be acquired. This part is then moved to the centre of the magnet. Part of your body is always outside the scanner.
The radiographer will be outside the room while the scan is performed, operating the machine and ensuring your wellbeing. At all times the radiographer will be able to see you and speak to you.
Headphones and earplugs are provided to reduce the noise and music of your choice can be played to help you relax. If you are uncomfortable a “buzzer” which will be in your hand may be pressed to alert the radiographer and ensure prompt attention.
In certain instances it may be required to give you an intravenous injection of dye (known as “contrast” or “gadolinium”). A small needle will be inserted into the back of your hand or elbow, with a small amount of clear fluid injected. This is to assist the radiologist in making their diagnosis. The dye is very safe.
It is important for you to be comfortable to ensure you can stay still for the examination. This ensures the images will not be blurry and gives the radiologist has the best chance to gain an accurate impression of your images.
There will be several different series of moderately loud noises, each taking between 2 and 5 minutes. These are the different views being taken. Depending on the type of test you have, the total scan may take between 20 minutes and an hour.
How will the test feel?
MRI causes no pain. Occasionally patients feel is a slight warming of the area being scanned or, very rarely, some slight tingling under the skin.
A small percentage of people may experience claustrophobia. If you are concerned you may be claustrophobic in the MRI, speak to your local or referring Doctor who may prescribe you a mild sedative to take beforehand. In these circumstances you should be accompanied to and from Direct Radiology as driving yourself is usually inadvisable.
When the MRI is acquiring its images it can be quite loud. You will be given earplugs and offered music to listen to. There will be cool air blowing over you while you are in the scanner.
After the exam is completed you can go home and resume your usual lifestyle.
What are the risks?
MRI uses no x-rays or other forms of ionising radiation and as such is a very safe test to have. There have been no side effects of the magnetic fields used.
If you require a dye injection (“contrast”), this is also very safe. It is very rare to have any side effects. However if you have significant kidney problems it may be advisable to avoid the injection. We will advise what is best for you and if you require the dye injection for the study being undertaken.
When will I know the result of my MRI?
You can take a CD of the images home with you from your appointment.
The report will be made available to your referring Doctor as soon as it is practicable, within 24 hours or earlier if required