MRI

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is an advanced technology that uses magnetic fields and radiofrequency waves to produce images of various parts of the body including, bone, soft tissue, ligaments, muscles, joints, blood vessels and other internal organs.

We conduct MRI scans from our nearby practice Norwest Medical Imaging in Bella Vista.

Overview

MRI is a medical imaging procedure that uses strong magnetic fields and radio waves to produce cross sectional images of the body. MRI can give different information about structures in the body than can be obtained using standard x-ray, computed tomography (CT) or ultrasound. In some cases a contrast agent may be required to show internal structures or abnormalities more clearly.

MRI does not use ionising radiation. There are no known harmful side effects associated with temporary exposure to a strong magnetic field, but for important safety considerations please see preparation below.

Preparing for an MRI scan

Please bring your referral (letter from your doctor) and your Medicare and/or Pension Health care card with you to your appointment. It is important to bring all previous films relating to the region being imaged.

In most cases, no special preparation is needed. However, there may be some circumstances in which you will be given specific instructions to follow before the exam and our staff will inform you at the time of booking, if necessary.

  • Musculoskeletal scans usually require no special preparation.
  • Upper Abdominal MRI (including Liver MRI, Pancreas MRI, Kidney (Renal) MRI) requires 4 hour fasting.
  • MRCP (Magnetic Resonance CholangioPancreatography) requires 8 hour fasting.

The MRI scanner uses a strong magnetic field, which will move ferromagnetic objects. You must let your doctor know if you have:

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

If you are pregnant, please inform your referring doctor and the radiographer.

Prior to your scan remove any coins, wallets, mobile phones, jewellery, watches, keys, dentures or partial plates. It is best to leave any valuables at home.

Scanning

For your safety you will be required to complete a safety questionnaire prior to the examination. Our qualified and experienced radiographer will perform the MRI scan.

You may be asked to change into a gown.

The radiographer will ask you to lie on the MRI table and you will be positioned according to the region of the body being imaged. A specialised coil will be placed over the relevant anatomy and the MRI table will be moved into the scanner for the duration of the scan.

For our extremity scanner the radiographer will ask you to sit comfortably in a padded chair beside the scanner, you do not need to go into the tunnel. We will simply place the region to be imaged into the scanner.

When the MRI scan starts, you will hear some loud knocking noises. These sounds occur whenever the MRI images are being taken. You will be provided with earplugs or headphones with music to help block out the MRI noise. While you are having your scan done, you can communicate with the technologist at any time through an intercom system and you will be provided with an emergency button.

The MRI scan can take 15 to 30 minutes and may take longer for multiple regions. It is very important that you remain still during the scanning time as movement will degrade the quality of the images.

To allow the radiologist to see the anatomy/pathology more clearly, you may require an injection of an MRI specific contrast agent.  If so, you will be asked to give your consent to this injection, in which a needle is inserted in to the vein. MRI contrast agents typically have few or no side effects.

After the exam, you can go back to your everyday activities.

If you have further questions about your MRI exam, our staff will be happy to answer them.

For severe cases of claustrophobia, light sedation can be provided. Please discuss this with your referring doctor prior to booking. 4 hours fasting is required and you must bring someone to drive you home after the MRI scan.

Results

Our staff will inform you if it is possible to wait for your results or if you should return and pick up the films and report at a later time. They can also be provided on CD or electronic transfer to your referring practitioner if requested.

Norwest Medical Imaging strongly advises that you return to your referring doctor, in order for your doctor to discuss your radiology report with you.

We understand that some patients are anxious about having tests performed. If you do have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to ask our staff.

FAQs

How long does the MRI scan take?
The MRI scan can take 15 to 30 minutes and may take longer for multiple regions. It is very important that you remain still during the scanning time as movement will degrade the quality of the images.

Can I sleep during my scan?
Yes, the MRI scanner can be quite noisy, but you will be provided with earplugs or headphones with music to help block out the MRI noise.

Can someone come into the scan room with me?
If you are claustrophobic and require a friend or family member to accompany you it will be permitted provided they meet the safety requirements after completing the safety questionnaire.

Are there any physical effects of having an MRI scan?
Prolonged exposure to radio waves during the scan may lead to slight warming of the body. This is a normal effect but please notify the radiographer if the heating effect become uncomfortable.

How strong is the magnetic field?
The MRI field strength is 1.5 Tesla. This strength is equivalent to electromagnets used to pick up cars in junk yards. It is important to comply with safety procedures and all instructions given by the qualified MRI radiographers.

Can I bring my own music to listen to?
Yes. However it is not always possible to use the headphones, if so earplugs will be provided. If you have any questions please ask at the time of booking.

What if I am claustrophobic?
You will be reassured by an experienced MRI radiographer but in severe cases of claustrophobia, light sedation can be provided. Please discuss this with your referring doctor prior to booking. 4 hours fasting is required and you must bring someone to drive you home after the MRI scan.

Can my MRI scan be bulk billed?
Our MRI scanner is a partially funded scanner which enables us to bulk bill GP referrals for certain indications.

For all other referrals we are unable to bulk bill.

Will the radiographer performing my scan tell me what’s wrong?
It is the radiographer’s duty to perform the test and ensure the images are of high quality for the radiologist (specialist doctor) to interpret them.