The role of diagnostic imaging in oncology

A vital element of successfully treating cancer is fast and accurate diagnosis. At Spire Murrayfield Hospital in Edinburgh we can offer rapid access to a full complement of state-of-the-art diagnostic imaging equipment for all private patients. Our consultant radiologists and highly specialised radiographers conduct MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), CT (computerised tomography), mammography, ultrasound and X-ray imaging within the comfortable and discreet environment of our private hospital and on-site Wellness Centre.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

An MRI scan is routinely performed as an out-patient procedure. Its main advantage is that it uses a magnet and radio waves to produce images and does not use X-ray radiation. It can take from 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the examination.

MRI can be used to examine most parts of the body. It complements other diagnostic imaging modalities by producing detailed cross-sectional images of the area of interest to give an accurate diagnosis.

Computerised tomography (CT)

At Spire Murrayfield Hospital Edinburgh, our a Toshiba 64 Multislice CT scanner offers the very latest in CT imaging technology in the comfortable surroundings of our fully equipped private diagnostic suite.

CT uses X-ray and computer technology to create detailed images of the body. It is increasingly used for the detection of cancer and has the ability to pick up the majority of tumours at an early stage increasing the chance of early treatment and a successful outcome.

Our CT team perform a wide range of examinations from routine scans to more complicated examinations such as Virtual Colonography and Biopsy.


Mammography is a low dose X-ray technique that’s used to create an image of the breast. Successful treatment of breast cancer generally benefits from early diagnosis and mammography is the best way currently available to detect cancerous changes, years before either a woman or her physician can feel a lump. It can often indicate whether or not a lump is cancerous (most are not).

The hospital recently installed digital mammography, which is one of the most recent advances in X-ray mammography.  Digital mammography is fast, the images are available immediately and functionality such as brightness, darkness, contrast and magnification can be manipulated making it easier to see subtle differences within the breast.


Ultrasound is very safe and uses high frequency sound waves to produce dynamic visual images of organs, tissues or blood flow within the body. It can help confirm, characterise and localise many types of lesions found in the breast, liver, prostate, pancreas, ovaries and kidney. It provides the operator excellent visualisation to perform image-guided biopsies of tissue for early analysis and identification.


An X-ray is a quick and painless imaging method used to diagnose many health conditions, including the detection of malignant abnormalities throughout the skeleton and chest. The procedure involves exposing part of the body to ionising radiation (X-rays). With the Hospital’s latest digital equipment and highly trained staff the least amount of radiation possible is used to produce an image that will help with diagnosis.

Other imaging modalities:

Capsule endoscopy

Capsule endoscopy is a gastroenterology procedure used to examine the small bowel that can be used to detect signs of colorectal cancer. It is a relatively new and non-invasive technique that uses an electronic pill-sized photographic camera inside a capsule.

The pill-shaped camera is approximately the size of a large vitamin pill (11mm x 26mm) and this is swallowed by the patient. The camera takes continual images during its passage down the small bowel. The images are recorded and stored in a reader that is worn on a belt around the patient's waist. The capsule has an eight-hour battery life and then usually passes naturally through the body with no need for retrieval. Consultant Gastroenterologist Dr Ian Arnott offers patients capsule endoscopy. Click here for more information about this procedure.