MRI is often considered the gold standard in imaging because the scans are very detailed. This is particularly useful when diagnosing conditions such as stroke, tumours and inflammation. Here are things to expect when having an MRI, and tips to help your visit go smoothly.

You cannot feel an MRI scan but you can hear it. The machine makes noises similar to a construction site, so you will be given earplugs to block out the sound and headphones with soothing music.

If you are anxious about being in enclosed spaces, tell our staff. If possible, your scan will be done using an MRI scanner that can play calming videos to distract you during the scan. A radiographer will also talk to you, and there is a button to press in emergencies or should you feel distressed.

Even very small amounts of metal on clothing or the body can cause serious burns, so a safety check will be conducted before you have your scan. To stay safe during your scan and avoid delays, here are some points to note: 

  • Do change into the gown provided

All clothes must be removed before your MRI scan. This includes bras, as they can contain underwiring and metal fasteners. Underpants or panties can be left on if they do not contain any  metal decoration or fasteners.

  • Do bring your implant card

If you have an implant such as a pacemaker or deep-brain stimulator, please bring your implant card along. It contains details of your implant that are required to ensure it is safe for you to have the scan.

  • Do bring your old films or CDs from previous scans (if available)

If you previously had scans done at private hospitals or clinics, bring copies of the films or CDs, if available. This will allow staff to compare and check for any changes.

  • Do not bring valuables to your appointment

All jewellery, including rings and earrings, must be removed before the scan. You will be given a locker with a key to store your clothes, personal items, and mobile phone, but please leave your valuables at home. 

  • Do not wear makeup

Some make-up products, such as false eyelashes and eye make-up, contain trace amounts of heavy metals. This can cause image artefacts — distortions in an MRI image that can affect accurate interpretation of the scan.

This article first appeared in NeusLink Issue 14 - click to download!

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MRI and CT Scans: Differences