Preparing for your MRI

In most cases, you can eat and drink as normal.

If you are taking medicines, continue to take them.

If we do need you to do anything (like stopping eating or drinking), we will let you know with your appointment letter.

We do not have childcare facilities. Please do not bring children or dependants with you.

To prepare, please:

  • wear loose-fitting clothes, as you will need to remove them to change into a hospital gown for your scan
  • remove anything magnetic, including watches, jewellery, hairclips, wigs, dentures (the scan will not affect dental fillings)
  • bring a CD of your choice if you would like to listen to music during your scan
  • leave your valuables at home

Having an injection before your MRI

If we're scanning certain areas of your body, we might need to give you an injection of MRI contrast.

The contrast shows up on the scan to give a more detailed picture.

We'll give you the injection by putting a small needle into a vein in your arm or hand.

If you need contrast, there's a small risk you could have an allergic reaction.

Before having the injection, you should let staff know if you:

  • have a history of allergic reactions
  • have kidney problems
  • are pregnant, breast feeding or think you could be pregnant

For more information, ask the radiographer before your scan or visit the NHS website.

Giving your permission

The radiographer will ask for your permission to go ahead with the MRI scan. They can also answer any questions or concerns you might have.

It is your decision to have an MRI scan and you can change your mind at any time. Please note that not having the MRI might delay your diagnosis.

If you would like to read our consent policy, please ask a member of staff.

During your MRI

A trained specialist called a radiographer will perform your MRI scan.

The radiographer will ask you to confirm your details, including your name.

If you're pregnant, or you think you might be, you must tell the radiographer before your exam.

We'll ask you to change into a hospital gown. Lockers are provided for your valuables and clothes.

You must leave your phone, coins, cards and anything metallic in the locker provided.

We'll ask you to lie on an examination bed. A coil (camera to give detailed pictures) may be placed over the body part that we are scanning.

It is important you keep very still. If you move, the pictures could be blurred and the scan may need to be repeated.

You'll move into the scanner on the scanner bed. The part of your body that we are scanning will be in the centre of the machine.

For scans of the chest or tummy (abdomen), we might ask you to hold your breath for a short while.

When the scanner is working, it makes loud banging noises. We will give you earplugs and headphones to reduce the noise.

The scan should be completely painless.

The average scan takes 20 and 30 minutes per body part but some may take longer.

You will be given a buzzer to press if you need our help during your scan. The radiographer will talk to you during the scan to let you know what is happening.

After your MRI

As soon as the scan is finished, you can leave the hospital or return to the ward.

You can eat and drink as usual, and do your usual activities.

If you had an injection of contrast, an allergic reaction can happen up to 2 days after the scan. If you think you are having an allergic reaction, contact your GP for advice.

Out of hours, please go to your nearest emergency department (A&E).

Getting your results

Your MRI pictures will be reviewed by a radiologist. They will produce a detailed report.

The results will be sent to the person who referred you.

The radiographer will tell you how to get your results and how long it will take, as this might be different for each patient.

If you are staying in hospital, the results will be given to the doctors looking after you on the ward.

Last updated: August 2023

Do you have any comments or concerns about your care?

Contact our Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS)

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