Having an MRI scan

Some patients can be anxious when invited for an MRI scan. 

Because of these concerns we've made this film to help you understand what having an MRI scan is all about. We'll show you what happens and introduce you to some of our patients who will tell you about their experiences.

When you arrive

Kent and Canterbury Hospital

Please report to the main reception desk in Radiology Department upon arrival. This is situated in the x-ray building , please follow the sign for x-ray department. Please park in the out patient parking and enter through the fracture clinic entrance. You will be directed to the appropriate waiting area in the department and staff booked to see you will be informed of your arrival. Should there be any delays, the Receptionist will ensure that you are kept informed.

William Harvey Hospital

Please report to the reception desk in the CT / MRI unit upon arrival. This is situated in the CT and MRI building, located behind the Accident and Emergency department. You will be shown where to wait and staff in the MRI department will be informed of your arrival. Should there be any delays, the Receptionist will ensure that you are kept informed.

Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Hospital

Please report to the main reception desk at the Radiology department upon arrival, this is situated at the Ramsgate Road entrance. You will be shown where to wait and staff in the MRI department will be informed of your arrival. Should there be any delays, the Receptionist will ensure that you are kept informed.

What is an MRI scan?

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a type of scan that uses strong magnetic fields and radio waves to produce detailed images of the inside of the body. It is considered to be the safest way to take cross-sectional images of the body.

The MRI scanner does not use x-rays or any other radiation sources to take images so there are no side effects. Having a scan is completely painless. 

The scanner is a large tube that contains powerful magnets. You lie on a flat bed that is moved inside the tube during the scan. The tube’s diameter is between 65 and 70cm, or 25.5 to 27.5 inches.

An MRI scan can be used to examine almost any part of the body, including the brain and spinal cord, bones and joints, breasts, heart and blood vessels, and internal organs such as the liver, womb or prostate gland.

MRI safety:

  • No metal items are allowed in the scanning room because of the strong magnets used in the scan.
  • If you do bring any metal object into the scan, it may be pulled towards the centre of the scanner, which can cause injuries.
  • You will need to remove all jewellery including piercings, as well as coins, a watch, belt, or any loose items.
  • You should continue to take any medicines as normal.
  • If you have any medical implants such as a pacemaker please contact the MRI team on 01227 864249 before your scan so we can make sure it is safe for you to be scanned.

Patients with following implants may not undergo examination if the implants are not MRI safe / MRI conditional.

  • Pacemaker/ Neuro-stimulator/ Deep Brain Stimulator/ Cochlear Implants/
  • Neurovascular clips within your brain. Example: Aneurysm clip
  • Metallic heart valve/s
  • Metal fragments within your eyes
  • Within the first three months of pregnancy.

What happens on the day of the scan?

  • The radiographer will ask you for the MRI safety questionnaire, which you will need to complete beforehand and bring with you. They will go through your answers and may need to ask you some questions before they carry out the scan.
  • If the radiographer believes it is safe for you to have an MRI scan, you may be asked to change into a hospital gown. You will be able to leave your personal belongings and clothes in a locker – please leave any valuables at home.
  • If you are claustrophobic or if you suffer from anxiety, you may bring one person with you to support you during the examination. That person will also need to complete the MRI safety questionnaire to make sure it is safe for them to be in the scanning room.
  • Please note that due to the nature of the examination we are unable to accommodate unaccompanied children within the department.
  • You may be asked to give your consent for an injection of contrast dye. This makes certain tissues and blood vessels show up more clearly and in greater detail. The injection can cause side effects, such as feeling or being sick, a skin rash, a headache or dizziness, but these are usually mild and don’t last long. You can discuss the risks and benefits with the scanning staff before you make a decision.
  • The staff working in the scanning room will look after you and communicate with you throughout the procedure through an intercom. They will be able to see you on a television monitor throughout the scan.
  • At certain times during the scan, the scanner will make loud tapping noises. This is the electric current in the scanner coils being turned on and off. You’ll be given earplugs or headphones to wear to help reduce the noise.
  • It’s important to keep as still as possible during your MRI scan. It will last between 15 and 90 minutes, depending on the size of the area being scanned and how many images are taken.
  • If you have any questions or concerns, please speak to the MRI staff.

What happens next?

The images from the scan will be sent to the specialist staff to interpret. They will write a report on their findings which will be sent to your doctor. This can take up to a month. If your scan has been marked as urgent, the report will be done as quickly as possible.

Where can I get more information?

For more information on having an MRI Scan, please see the Trust's MRI Scan leaflet.

Useful websites

If you have any concern about your scan and would like to speak to one of the Radiographers you can contact the MRI scan teams on:

Kent and Canterbury Hospital: 01227 783084

William Harvey Hospital: 01233 633331 ext 723-8996

Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital: 01843 230699.