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MRI is the abbreviation for Magnetic Resonance Imaging and is a means of taking cross-sectional images in any plane of the body. These images are very detailed and will clearly demonstrate the body’s soft tissues such as muscles, nerves, spinal cord, intervertebral discs, cartilage, ligaments, etc.
How does an MRI work?
The MRI scanner produces these images by placing the patient within a strong magnetic field and then aiming a pulse of radiowaves into the body. The radiowaves are returned from the body and this signal is the basis for producing an image. This process is completely safe and involves no harmful radiation.
- At 31 Old Broad Street we offer ground-breaking 3T MRI scanning, allowing advanced diagnostic capabilities for a range of services. The magnet is twice the strength of a 1.5 MRI scanner, with increased image quality and resolution, and improved spatial and temporal resolution. The 3T scanner offers decreased scan times, allowing a faster and more accurate diagnosis. The scanner also ensures quality imaging for patients who struggle with keeping still for longer periods of time. The 3T scanner allows for improved imaging within core specialties, including: orthopaedics, brain imaging and prostate spectroscopy.
- As well as our 3T scanner, we also have the 1.5 Tesla Avanto system is the first Siemens system to fully incorporate Tim™ (total imaging matrix) technology, the first whole body surface coil concept (Siemens Medical Systems). This enables images to be digitally fused together to create a single image of the whole spine or lower limbs for example and can scan any body part.
What will I experience during the MRI procedure?
- MRI scans are painless, but during the scan it is vital to remain as still as possible, as any motion will lead to the images being blurred and the scan will be started again or repeated. During the scan we will be in contact with you via an intercom system and if you are concerned for any reason you can contact us by using the panic button provided.
- Whilst scanning the machine makes a repeated loud banging noise. We provide headphones to protect the ears and to allow communication, and you will also have a choice of music.
Who is suitable for a MRI scan?
In most cases, an MRI exam is safe for patients with metal implants, except for a few types. If you have any of the following devices or implants please let us know:
- Cardiac pacemaker or internal (implanted) defibrillator
- Cochlear (ear) implant
- Clips used on brain aneurysms
- If you are in the first trimester of pregnancy.
- You should tell your doctor and the radiographer if you have foreign, medical or electronic devices in your body, because they may potentially pose a risk or interfere with the exam. Examples include:
- If you have an artificial heart valve (most valves are safe, but we would need to check the type of valve you have).
- If you have had an injury involving metal objects to the eye, and have not entered a MRI scan room before, we would need to take x-rays of your orbits as a safety precaution.
- implanted drug infusion ports
- infusion catheter
- intrauterine device (IUD)
- artificial limbs or metallic joint prostheses
- implanted nerve stimulators
- metal pins, screws, plates or surgical staples.
In general, metal objects used in orthopaedic surgery pose no risk during MRI. However, a recently placed artificial joint may require the use of another imaging procedure. If there is any question of their presence, an x-ray may be taken to detect the presence of any metal objects.
Sheet metal workers and others who might have metal objects such as shrapnel in their bodies may also require an x-ray prior to an MRI. Dyes used in tattoos may contain iron and could heat up during MRI, but this is rarely a problem. Tooth fillings and braces are not usually affected by the magnetic field, but they may distort images of the facial area or brain, so the radiologist should be aware of them.
What happens during the scan?
- All persons entering the MRI room must fill in a MRI Safety questionnaire regarding their medical history to ensure it is safe to enter the magnetic field.
- All patients will be asked to put on a patient gown and leave all their belongings in the changing cubicle to ensure that no metallic objects enter the scan room. Lockers are provided for the safe keeping of valuables, which are not allowed into the scan room.
- The MRI scan usually lasts from 15- 45 minutes, depending on the area of the body that is being scanned and the amount of scans your doctor has requested. Imaging coils might be placed around or strapped to parts of the body that is being imaged.
Who interprets the MRI results and how do I get them?
A radiologist, a physician specifically trained to supervise and interpret radiology examinations, will analyse the images and send a signed report to your primary care or referring physician, who will share the results with you. You will however get a copy of the images to take with you.