Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

What is magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)?

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a scanning procedure that uses strong magnets and radiofrequency pulses to generate signals from the body. These signals are detected by a radio antenna and processed by a computer to create images (or pictures) of the inside of your body.

The MRI scanner is generally shaped like a large, covered box with a tunnel passing through it. A table, on which you lie, slides into the tunnel. Both ends of the scanner are open and will not close. The tunnel has lights in it and sometimes a mirror. Some of the MRI scanners have wider tunnels or are partially open (more like a ‘C’, rather than an ‘O’).

MRI scanners can be quite loud, and make a knocking sound like a jack hammer while the images are being taken. If needed, you will be provided with earplugs or headphones playing music to ease the impact of the noise. If you need to contact the MRI radiographer, you will be given a buzzer to raise their attention.


When you make an appointment for an MRI examination, you will be asked a series of safety questions to ensure you do not have any implanted devices that may prevent you from undergoing the procedure. If you answer ‘Yes’ to any of these questions, you may be instructed to provide details or medical records so our staff can ascertain their compatibility with the MRI scanner. Our staff will direct you what to do, providing clear instructions to ensure minimal delay when you present for your examination.

When you arrive for your examination, you will be asked to fill out an MRI safety questionnaire. This provides further assurances that you do not have implanted objects that are contraindicated and you are safe to undergo the procedure. There will also be questions regarding your clinical symptoms, providing additional information to the Radiologists, ensuring a more thorough and accurate report.


In a very small number of cases patients may require sedation for the examination to be completed. This option will need to be discussed with your doctor and then with our staff at the time of booking.