Your MRI scan

Patient Leaflets Team

  • Reference Number: HEY1131/2020
  • Departments: Radiology
  • Last Updated: 25 June 2020

Please read this important information and fill in the Safety Form


This leaflet gives you general information about your MRI scan. Most of your questions should be answered by this leaflet. It is not intended to replace the discussion between you and the healthcare team, but may act as a starting point for discussion. If after reading it you have any concerns or require further explanation, please discuss this with a member of the healthcare team.

We usually send you a safety form with this leaflet.  Please fill the form in as soon as you have read this leaflet.  Contact us soon as possible if you need to give us information or if you need further advice on (01482) 674080

What is an MRI scan?

MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging.  An MRI scan uses a very strong magnet, radio waves and a computer to produce pictures of the inside of your body.

The scans are done by a radiographer who is experienced in obtaining high quality pictures and taking care of you throughout the scan.  The pictures will go to a specialist who will write a report to the healthcare professional who referred you.

Why do I need an MRI scan?

MRI is used to diagnose many conditions, to plan treatment and monitor progress.  It can give detailed information about any part of the body.  You may have this scan as well as other tests for example, a computerised tomography (CT) scan, ultrasound scan or X-rays.

How do I prepare for the scan?

Please take your medication as normal unless you have been told not to.  Your appointment letter will advise you if you should not eat and drink as normal before the scan. Please do not wear eye makeup if we are scanning your head.

You may bring an adult friend or family member through to the scan room if you need their support, but only if they are safe to come in.  They will need to fill out a safety form in the MRI department.

Please allow plenty of time for your visit and arrive at least 15 minutes before your appointment so there is time to prepare.  Scan times can vary from 15 minutes to an hour and you may need to stay a while afterwards.

We have no facilities for children to wait while adults are being scanned. You may be asked to remove medication patches and nicotine patches, so please bring a spare with you for after the examination.

What will happen?

Please hand in your completed safety form at reception.

Before your scan an MRI team member will explain the procedure, check your details and go through your Safety Form.  They will be happy to answer any questions.  You will be asked to remove all metal objects apart from wedding rings.  Some examinations will require you to get changed and gowns are provided.

You will lie down on a movable bed that will bring you to rest with the part of your body we are picturing at the middle of the scanner.  The scanner is open at both ends all of the time.  It is well lit and air conditioned. If you have any problems lying flat or find breathing difficult when lying down, please ring us to discuss any requirements you may need.  The scanners are very noisy when they are scanning but they do not hurt.  You will be given ear protection for the noise.

During the scan the radiographer will be observing you and they will talk with you over an intercom in between sections of the scan.  You will also have a buzzer to press if you need assistance. MRI pictures can be blurred by movement so it is very important to stay still.

Are there any risks?

MRI is considered one of the safest ways of imaging the body because there is no harmful radiation.  Some people have a type of metal object in their body that could harm them in a strong magnetic field.  There is a safety form with this leaflet.  Please take time to fill it out.  Most metal in the body is safe for your MRI scan but we will need details to make sure.  If you do not tell us about an implant or a medical device that you rely on, in advance, you may not be able to have your scan for some days, until checks have been done.

Will I need an injection?

We take many different types of MRI pictures and we may need to give you an injection of a clear fluid called a contrast agent.  This is to make some parts of your body stand out in the pictures.  The injection is given in to the arm or back of the hand by a qualified member of staff.

It is rare for the contrast agent to cause an allergic reaction.  Occasionally it can cause an itchy rash or a brief feeling of sickness which can be treated within the MRI department.  It is extremely rare for any more serious complication to develop.

It may not be suitable for you have an injection of contrast agent if you have some types of kidney problem or are pregnant.  Please tell the radiographer if this might apply to you.  Mothers should discuss breast feeding options before attending if they need an injection.

An injection to prevent your digestion from blurring your pictures may be given for some scans of the abdomen or pelvis.

What happens afterwards?

You can leave the department straight after the scan is finished unless you are told otherwise.  If you have had an injection you may need to stay in the department for as long as 30 minutes after the scan.  You may eat and drink as normal.  Having an MRI scan will not prevent you from driving home. Your results will go to the healthcare professional who referred you for the scan.  We do not provide results on the day.

General Advice and Consent

Most of your questions should have been answered by this leaflet, but remember that this is only a starting point for discussion with the healthcare team.

Consent to treatment

Before any doctor, nurse or therapist examines or treats you, they must seek your consent or permission. In order to make a decision, you need to have information from health professionals about the treatment or investigation which is being offered to you. You should always ask them more questions if you do not understand or if you want more information.

The information you receive should be about your condition, the alternatives available to you, and whether it carries risks as well as the benefits. What is important is that your consent is genuine or valid. That means:

  • you must be able to give your consent
  • you must be given enough information to enable you to make a decision
  • you must be acting under your own free will and not under the strong influence of another person

Information about you

We collect and use your information to provide you with care and treatment. As part of your care, information about you will be shared between members of a healthcare team, some of whom you may not meet. Your information may also be used to help train staff, to check the quality of our care, to manage and plan the health service, and to help with research. Wherever possible we use anonymous data.

We may pass on relevant information to other health organisations that provide you with care. All information is treated as strictly confidential and is not given to anyone who does not need it. If you have any concerns please ask your doctor, or the person caring for you.

Under the General Data Protection Regulation and the Data Protection Act 2018 we are responsible for maintaining the confidentiality of any information we hold about you. For further information visit the following page: Confidential Information about You.

If you or your carer needs information about your health and wellbeing and about your care and treatment in a different format, such as large print, braille or audio, due to disability, impairment or sensory loss, please advise a member of staff and this can be arranged.

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