Nurse Talking to Patient

WHAT TO EXPECT 
FOR AN
MRI SCAN

Before an MRI Scan     

  • No special preparation of food restriction is required. You should be able to eat, drink and take any medication as usual, unless you are advised otherwise. 

  •  No special preparation of food restriction is required unless you are advised otherwise.

  • In some cases – for example, MRI Abdomen, MRI Liver and MRCP (MR for hepatobiliary and pancreatic systems), you may be required to fast 4 to 6 hours before the scan.

  • When you arrive at the imaging centre, you may be asked to complete a questionnaire about your health and inform the staff if you have any existing medical conditions or electronic devices in your body. 

  • All  jewellery or any metal objects will need to be removed prior to the MRI scan. 

  • Depending on which part of your body is being scanned, you may need to wear a clinic gown during the procedure. 

  • If you are claustrophobic, you may ask for a mild sedative to help you relax. Please highlight this when making an appointment. If you decide to have a sedative during your scan, please arrange for someone to send you home as you should not drive for 24 hours.

  • Some MRI scans involve having an injection of a contrast dye. The dye is usually injected in the vein of your hand or arm. 

During an MRI Scan  

  • An MRI scanner is a short cylinder that is open at both ends. You will lie on a motorised bed that is moved inside the scanner. 

  • A computer is used to operate the MRI scanner and the radiographer operates the computer in a separate room next to you. You will be able to talk to them and they will be able to see you at all times through a screen or on a television monitor.

  • A family member or friend may be allowed to stay with you. Children can usually have a parent with them. 

  • To avoid blur images, it is very important to keep the part of your body being scanned still throughout the whole of the scan.

  • A single scan may take from a few seconds to 3 or 4 minutes. You may be asked to hold your breath during short scans. Depending on the size of the area being scanned and how many images are taken, the whole procedure will take 15 to 90 minutes.

  • The MRI scanner will make loud tapping noises at certain times during the procedure. To reduce noise disturbance, you'll be given earplugs or headphones.

  • You will be moved out of the scanner when your scan is over.

     

After an MRI Scan     

  • An MRI scan is usually carried out as an outpatient procedure, and you will not need to stay in hospital overnight. 

  • After the scan, you can resume normal activities. But if you have had a sedative, a friend or relative will need to take you home and stay with you for the first 24 hours. It is not safe to drive, operate heavy machinery or drink alcohol for 24 hours after having a sedative.

  • Your MRI scan needs to be studied by a radiologist  and possibly discussed with other specialists. 

  • A report will be sent to the doctor who arranged the scan, and your doctor will discuss the results with you. 

  • It usually takes 2 to 3 days for the results of an MRI scan to come through unless they are needed urgently.