Your guide to private MRI scans – process, length, cost & more

Magnetic Resonance Imaging – more commonly known as MRI – uses magnetic fields to take pictures of inside the body. An MRI scan can look at many different areas, from larger organs like the brain to blood vessels and muscles. Your body isn’t exposed to X-ray radiation during an MRI scan, and if you have a private MRI scan, you could receive the results in as little as 3 working days.

You may be sent for a scan if your doctor needs to diagnose certain health conditions. However, you can ask for private imaging without the need for a GP referral letter. Conditions include, but are not limited to:

●      Spinal injuries

●      Brain tumours

●      Prostate problems

●      Sports injuries

●      Soft tissue problems

●      Heart abnormalities

●      Ear, nose and throat problems


MRI can also be used to monitor blood flow. In this case, it’s likely you will be injected with a special contrast dye to help make it easier to detect circulatory problems.

What happens during an MRI scan?

An MRI scanner will be a large tube or tunnel you lie inside. It doesn’t hurt, and in most cases, you don’t have to be sedated for the scan. To achieve the best images, you will be asked to remain as still as possible.

The scanner has powerful magnets which are controlled by a radiographer. The radiographer will be in another room so the computer isn’t affected by the magnetic waves. They will be able to see you at all times on a screen and will talk to you through an intercom system.

How long will my scan take?

The length of time an MRI scan takes depends on a number of factors, but most importantly the size of the area that needs to be analysed. The number of pictures that need to be taken will also have a bearing on the length of your private scan.

Your scan can take a matter of minutes or last up to an hour-and-a-half for full body scans – your doctor will be able to give more information when you attend your private MRI scan.

What are the benefits of private scans?

Many people choose private imaging rather than receiving an MRI scan through the NHS. This helps avoid long waiting times and means you can get answers to your medical concerns sooner rather than later.

Another of the advantages of a private MRI scan is you’ll be back on your feet straight afterwards. You won’t be kept in overnight.

A private MRI scan cost is likely to be lower than you would expect to start from as little as £400, and you should receive your results within 3 – 4 working days. Your results will be sent to your doctor of choice so you can discuss them in more detail.

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