Contact

A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan uses magnets and radio waves to produce both two and three dimensional pictures of the inside of your body. It’s suitable for every part of the body, including bones, soft tissues (such as blood vessels, ligaments and muscles) and the brain, and so can help to diagnose and monitor many different medical conditions.

Why you might need it

Your doctor may recommend a MRI scan for a number of reasons. Parts of the body examined with MRIs include:

  • Joints and muscles - An MRI scan is often used to look at tissue around joints and bones, and can help to diagnose injuries to your elbow, hip and knee. It can also detect conditions such as arthritis or tendon tears.
  • Heart - MRI scans can capture images of your heart including the valves and blood vessels, helping to diagnose heart defects or disease. They may be used to examine the heart after a heart attack.
  • Brain - An MRI scan can be used to help analyse the brain for tumours, possible causes of a headache and abnormal tissue growth. It may also be used to assess any damage to the brain after a stroke.
  • Tumours - MRIs can produce detailed images of soft tissue, which show the difference between normal and diseased tissue such as a tumour. It can also check the progress of a tumour to establish whether it is shrinking or growing.

The magnetic field from an MRI scan affects metals such as iron, nickel and steel, so they're not suitable for everyone. You might not be able to have one if you have a pacemaker, certain implants, artificial joints or metal clips in your body for example. As a precaution, MRI scans are not usually done on women who are less than 12 weeks pregnant.

If you decide to have your scan with us, you will be looked after by an experienced multi-disciplinary care team.

Who will do it?

Our patients are at the heart of what we do and we want you to be in control of your care.

All of our radiographers are of the highest standard and benefit from working in our modern, well-equipped hospitals.

Before your treatment

An MRI scan is routinely done as an outpatient procedure. Most MRI scans need no special preparation. However, if you are having an abdominal or pelvic scan you may be asked to follow special instructions about eating and drinking. Please see your appointment letter for details.

 

Preparing for your treatment

We've tried to make your experience with us as easy and relaxed as possible.

For more information on visiting hours, our food, what to pack if you're staying with us, parking and all those other important practicalities, please visit our patient information pages.

We will give you tailored advice to follow in the run up to your procedure, which will be dependent on the type of MRI scan you're having.

When you arrive at the hospital, we may also ask you some questions about your health, previous operations, allergies and any medicines you are taking. This helps to ensure that it is safe for you to have an MRI scan.

The procedure

We understand that having a scan can potentially be a time of anxiety and worry. Our experienced and caring medical staff will be there for you, holding your hand, every step of the way.

When having an MRI scan, you’ll need to wear loose clothing without zips or metallic parts, and to remove any jewellery, hearing aids, watches or glasses. We will also ask you to leave behind coins, keys and credit cards.

An MRI scan is painless. Depending on the type of scan you have, you may need to have an injection of a special dye (contrast medium), which makes certain parts of your body show up more clearly on the scan.

During the procedure, your radiographer will help position you on a special table that slides into the MRI scanner. This will usually be repeated several times and the entire examination generally takes around 30 minutes (but can last up to an hour depending on the examination). You will be able to talk to your radiographer throughout the scan.

You will hear some noise during the procedure - this is completely normal and is the sound of the MRI scan machine taking the images. We will provide you with earplugs or headphones and often you can choose to listen to music if you wish.

During the scan, you should breathe quietly and normally and keep very still as any movement will blur the images. 

*Procedures available may vary on location.

Aftercare

An MRI is an outpatient procedure so you will be able to leave hospital after your test.

MRI scans are considered very safe with no known side effects from exposure to magnetic or radio waves. Adverse reactions to the special contrast dye sometimes used are very rare and can usually be treated immediately.

We will talk to you about the possible risks and complications of having this procedure and how they apply to you.

If you have any questions or concerns, we’re ready to help.

A radiologist, a doctor trained in reading MRI scans, will examine the images. A report will be sent to the doctor who requested your test. This can take several days to reach your doctor. Before you go home, please ask you radiographer when you can expect to get your results. If you haven’t been told the results within two weeks, call your doctor.

Why choose Spire?

We are committed to delivering excellent individual care and customer service across our network of hospitals, clinics and specialist care centres around the UK. Our dedicated and highly trained team aim to achieve consistently excellent results. For us it's more than just treating patients, it's about looking after people.

How much does it cost?

A fixed price for this treatment may be available on enquiry and following an initial consultation.

You can trust Spire Alexandra Hospital to provide you with a single, fixed price* so there are no surprises. And, through our carefully chosen partner you can even be considered for interest free finance.

We’re here to help you with making these important choices, so you’re then free to concentrate on your treatment and on getting back to being you.

Important: Please read Spire’s terms and conditions for full details of what’s included and excluded in your fixed price* when paying for yourself.

* Zebra Finance Ltd trading as Zebra Health Finance , Lincoln House, Stephensons Way, Wyvern Business Park, Derby, DE21 6LY. 

Important to note

The treatment described on this page may be adapted to meet your individual needs, so it's important to follow your healthcare professional's advice and raise any questions that you may have with them.