Introduction

The Rutherford Diagnostics Centres house some of the most sophisticated and accurate diagnostic imaging technology available and our experienced team are passionate about the service they provide to patients and clinicians.

Patients and clinicians using Rutherford Diagnostics can expect a first-class, rapid diagnostic service with same-day appointment availability.

If your consultant/clinician/specialist has requested that you undergo an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan. This webpage is designed to give you some information about the scanning process, to help you prepare for your scan appointment and to give you some idea of what to expect when you attend.

A radiographer is responsible for ensuring your safety, comfort and care during the MRI scan and will be present to answer any questions or concerns you may have.

Our diagnostic imaging services are accessible to self-pay patients, private patients under medical insurance (subject to authorisation) and NHS patients who are treated under our contract to Somerset NHS Foundation Trust.

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What is MRI?

MRI is a method encompassing the use of a magnetic field, radio-waves and a computer to obtain highly detailed pictures of inside the body. The technique does not use x-rays and there are no known side effects.

What does the equipment look like?

The scanner is a wide, well-lit short tunnel. Our scanner is also much wider than the average MRI scanner. If you are nervous about your MRI scan please speak to your radiographer who will be able to answer any questions or concerns you may have.

How do you prepare for your MRI scan?

There are usually no special preparations needed before an MRI scan, ensure clothing is appropriate (loose, comfortable without metal zips or buttons. You may eat and drink as normal on the day of your scan appointment, unless informed otherwise. Please contact the Rutherford Diagnostic Centre immediately if you receive an appointment and you have any of the following:

  • a cardiac pacemaker
  • an artificial heart valve or any coronary stents
  • any aneurysm clips in the head
  • any implanted metallic devices (e.g. ear implant or neurostimulator)
  • a programmable shunt
  • have, or have ever had, shrapnel or any other metal fragments in the body, especially in the eyes
  • confirmed or possible pregnancy

If there are any other potential metallic implants (e.g. hip or knee replacements) with recent surgeries it may be unsafe to proceed with the MRI scan, this must be discussed with the radiographer when completing the safety questionnaire prior to the appointment.

What happens before your MRI scan?

At the start of your appointment you will complete a safety questionnaire. The radiographer looking after you will ask you some questions to ensure your safety during the scan, they will also explain the procedure before starting. You may be required to change into a gown or scrubs, however scans are occasionally carried out in personal clothes.

Metal is affected within the magnetic environment, it is mandatory that no loose non compatible metallic objects enter the scan room as they pose a serious health and safety risk, they can also be detrimental to the overall quality of the MRI scan images and possibly be damaged by the equipment.

A secure locker will be provided for storing any belongings during the scan appointment. If you are uncertain about which items can and cannot be taken into the scanner room, please ask the radiographer beforehand.

Examples of items which should not be taken into the MRI scanner room include:

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Please inform the radiographer if you:

  • wear dental braces
  • wear any patches for pain relief, etc
  • have a hearing aid
  • are wearing eye-make up, jewellery or piercings
  • have any metal implants such as a pacemaker
  • wear glasses
  • have any credit cards or similar
  • have any keys
  • are wearing clothes with metal buttons or zips, or antiperspirant metal strips
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What to expect during the scan

The MRI Scanner is well lit and ventilated, and the radiographers will help you into the correct position on the scanner bed. The radiographers will position a special antenna – called a coil – over the area of the body being scanned.

When they are ready to scan they will operate the scanner from a separate control room where they can see you at all times via a glass screen and CCTV system as well as communication via an intercom system. If you need to come out of the MRI scanner at any time they have a button you can press and the radiographers will come straight into the room to assist you. To further aid you in feeling relaxed, there is music and other entertainment available.

Whilst the scanner is acquiring the images it can make a loud banging sound, imagine being next to a busy building site as an example. This is a normal part of the scan and nothing to worry about. Ear protection with or without music is available to protect your ears from the noise. Apart from the sound of the scanner and some associated vibrations you should not experience anything to cause any discomfort.

We would like you to keep as still as possible while your scan is being performed. The scan may take up to 40 minutes to complete but the radiographers will keep you informed regarding scan progress and how long is left until the scan is complete.

Contrast agents

Your consultant/clinician may request a Contrast Injection during the MRI scan. It is not necessary for all patients to have contrast, some anatomical areas can be visualised adequately without. A contrast agent is a colourless liquid which the radiographer will inject into your vein, usually via the arm. It allows images to be viewed with different brightness and detail.

Before the scan starts, a suitably qualified individual will insert a needle attached to a thin plastic tube is inserted into a vein. This is called a cannula, we use this to inject the contrast into your vein. A small amount of the contrast agent will be injected during the scan, you will be told when this will happen, and, in some cases, a cold sensation can be felt in your arm. This is a sensation which will disappear quickly.

You may have concerns about the scan or the injection, please speak to your radiographer who will be able to answer any questions or concerns you may have.

After the scan

MRI scans are generally well tolerated, and you should be able to return home straight after the scan. Your referring consultant/clinician will use the scan report and results to aid with your care. A consultant radiologist will complete a detailed report of your scan within a few days.

If you have any further questions you can speak to your radiographer after the MRI scan.

Pregnancy

There are no known risks with scanning pregnant women, however as a precaution MRI scans are not advised during pregnancy unless there are special circumstances.

You MUST tell a member of the team or your radiographer as soon as possible if you or another person present during the scan may be pregnant.

Can you make it?

If you have any queries or concerns regarding your MRI scan, are unable to attend your appointment, or wish to amend the appointment time, then please contact us by telephone as soon as possible.

Our phone lines are open 8am – 6pm Monday – Friday.

Our contact telephone number is: 01633 973 250

Further information

If you would like to know more about MRI scans, please download our patient guide

The core imaging services Rutherford Diagnostics provides includes:

Computerised Tomography (CT) Scan

CT

A computerised tomography (CT) scan can be used to diagnose and guide treatment, using x-rays to create images of the inside of the body.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan

MRI

A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan uses magnetic fields and radio waves to produce detailed images of the inside of the body.

Ultrasound

Ultrasound

An ultrasound scan uses high-frequency sound waves to create an image of part of the body inside, this can be used to diagnose or guide treatment.

Digital X-ray

X-ray

Projection imaging, otherwise known as digital x-ray, creates two-dimensional images of the body at a particular moment in time.