At some point in our lives many of us will require an MRI scan. But don’t worry, they really are not as scary as they might seem. I’m going to give you the low down on all you need to know about having an MRI scan.
1. What is an MRI scan?
An MRI scanner is a machine with a large tube at its centre that contains powerful magnets. This tube is where you lie - partly or fully inside the tube during the scan; it doesn’t hurt, and it doesn’t require any form of sedation.
MRI scanners use magnetic fields to generate images of tissue, joints and organs within in the body.
It is very safe, meaning that there is no exposure to radiation like other types of radiological scan such as an X-ray or CT scan. Each MRI scan usually takes around 30 minutes for a single area to be imaged.
2. What can an MRI scan be used for?
MRI scans can generate three-dimensional images, at any angle of the body, which makes them a powerful diagnostic tool for a wide range of organs and body parts.
MRI scans can examine the brain, spinal cord, joints (such as hips, shoulders and knees), as well as looking at our muscles, blood vessels and checking for any abnormal growth or damage within ligaments / muscles.
They can detect the presence of tumours, heart abnormalities and soft tissue problems.
There aren’t many places of the body an MRI scan can’t be used for! This means you can get rapid results to help diagnose a niggling pain, an unresolved injury or just for peace of mind from any ongoing issues you may be concerned about.
They are available to everyone and you will see them regularly used for diagnosis and medical examinations across elite sports including football, rugby and boxing.
3. Can I arrange an MRI Scan privately?
You’ll be happy to know that you can access a private MRI scan without any need to see your NHS doctor.
This means you can get answers to medical concerns almost immediately. In most cases you can book a next day scan appointment or at a day/time to suit your own schedule. Especially if it’s difficult to obtain leave from your workplace, or if you can’t miss the school run!
Going private is a discreet process too. When you have a scan privately, the hospital does not need your NHS records or a referral letter from your doctor/specialist. At Pall Mall Medical (where you call to self-refer for an MRI scan) they will arrange a free of charge telephone consultation with their own GP’s - who can listen to your concerns and help you book the correct scan to get the answer you want. After your scan, you can decide who gets access to the results and images, its completely confidential.
4. How fast are MRI results available?
The Radiologist will report on the MRI images and your results are generally available within 3-5 working days. If needed, you can also book priority turnaround on your results within 48 hours. This is ideal if you’re nursing an injury from your evening 5-a-side football match or the gym and want to avoid spending a day in A&E!
When you book your scan, you will be able to specify how you receive your results too.
5. Can I afford an MRI scan?
An MRI doesn’t cost an arm or a leg (excuse the pun!). I used to think MRI scans cost thousands so I think you will be pleasantly surprised at the price!
Just to give you a rough idea, an MRI scan of one area of your body, is only £400, and 2 areas £600. This is the total cost too.
Prices do differ across private hospitals so you can expect to see this to increase elsewhere outside of Pall Mall Medical.
6. Is there anything I should be worried about?
There are no known risks or side effects associated with MRI scanning. There is no radiation exposure from an MRI scan, it’s very safe.
To achieve the best images, you will be asked to remain as still as possible - I know this can be a bit challenging, but many people find the time is good for a rest or power nap!
Because of the magnets being used, an MRI should not be performed on people with magnetic metal implants in their bodies such as; pacemakers, inner ear implants or surgical clips. If you have ever had metal fragments in your eyes due to an injury or occupational hazard (e.g. working on a building site) you should inform your Patient Coordinator in advance so that they can check if you are at risk.
Here are a few other common worries people might have:
- Claustrophobia - Radiographers are experienced and know how to help us remain calm & relaxed during the scan. There is an emergency button within easy reach so you can press it at any time if you feel uncomfortable.
- Loud noise - It can be quite loud during an MRI scan, which is just the scanner doing its job. This can sound like a hum, clank or banging, but the good news is your Radiographer can usually play music through a headset to make the process more appealing to the ears!
- Eating or drinking - You can eat, drink and continue to take your medication prior to a scan. If you are having a scan of your tummy, you may be asked to starve for a few hours before your scan, however.
- I am a ‘large’ person – That’s ok… if you are worried about your waistline, don’t. If you are larger, they will naturally establish whether you will be able to comfortably use the machine. If you are concerned, you should let the team know in advance so that they can give you as much notice as possible if the scan cannot go ahead
- Dental implants - generally safe if inserted over 8 weeks prior to scan
- Body piercings - remove these prior to scan
- Surgical implants - if you have pins, screws or plates, its best to seek medical guidance on whether you can safely proceed
- Breast implants - generally safe if your surgical recovery is fully complete
- Contraceptive coil or implant - Generally safe if inserted over 8 weeks, always best to check with the imaging team when booking.
- Hair extensions using beads - always best to check with the imaging team when booking.
Whether you are after an expert diagnosis of an injury, condition, disease risk or maybe just for peace of mind, come on down to see Pall Mall Medical at their state of-the-art, purpose-built Hospital in Newton-le-Willows (near to St Helens). They have an on-site imaging centre with an MRI suite available 6 days a week from early morning to early evening.
Trust me, you won’t be disappointed!
If you would like to book an appointment for an MRI scan, please contact Pall Mall Medical by calling 03300 58 44 55 or email email@example.com
If you're looking for a MRI Scan between Liverpool City Centre and Manchester City Centre, then visit us at our private hospital in Newton-le-Willows. There are NO waiting lists and you DON'T need a referral letter from the NHS for a scan at Pall Mall Medical. We offer a simple call and book system for all self-funding and medically insured patients.