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Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

What is MRI?

MRI is a medical imaging technique that uses a magnetic field and radio waves to produce detailed images in different parts of the human body.  Patients lie on a bed and enter a tunnel shaped machine for the scan.

MRI’s can visualise certain structures in the body in greater detail than CT scan, for example to assess the brain, spine, muscles and organs such as the prostate.

Some MRI scans may require contrast (dye) to be injected into the veins to highlight certain structures.

Is MRI Safe?

MRI scans does not use radiation unlike X-rays or CT scans. However, as there is a strong magnetic field, objects that contain iron cannot enter the scan room.  As a safety precaution, detailed screening will be carried prior to the scan.

Patients with claustrophobia may also not be able to tolerate the scan, and may opt to be sedated if required. Contrast cannot be given to pregnant women.

MRI scan contrast must be used with caution in patients who are allergic or have kidney failure. We have safety protocols to assess risk to patients, and work closely with referring doctors to decide on the best imaging type.

Examples of MRI Scans:

  • MRI of the liver is done to diagnose tumours for  liver cancer in patients with hepatitis B.
  • MRI of the spine is done to check for “slipped” discs or pinching of the nerves causing back pain.
  • MRI of the knee is done to check for soft tissue and ligamental injury.
  • MRI of the brain is useful for diagnosing stroke, dementia and tumours.