Types of imaging

Magnetic Resonance Imaging

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) produces very detailed pictures of any part of the body. The scanner uses a high-strength magnet, radio waves and computers to generate images that can be used to diagnose medical conditions.

MRI scanner feature image
MRI Sola scanner

Imaging Technology

Cobalt Imaging Centre Cheltenham houses the very latest imaging technology including a state-of-the-art Siemens Sola 1.5 Tesla and a high-definition Philips Ingenia 3.0 Tesla MRI scanner, with enhanced capabilities to scan all body areas.

What to Expect

On arrival at our Imaging Centre in Cheltenham, we will complete a safety checklist with you and obtain your consent to undertake the scan. You will be asked to remove all metal objects such as clothing with zips or those that contain metallic fibres or antimicrobial sports clothing which contains silver or metallic threads, jewellery or piercings, hair grips and credit cards before entering the scan room (a locker will be provided for these and other valuables).

You may prefer to arrive in clothes that do not contain metal for example clothing without any zips, buttons or metallic thread, however, we will provide you with metal-free loose-fitting clothing to wear if you are wearing clothes that contain metal.

Please do not wear eye makeup if you are having a scan of your head or eyes and we may ask you to remove any drug administration patches on your body for the duration of your scan. We will be happy to answer any questions that you may have prior to your scan.

Patient Information leaflet

Download our Patient Information leaflet to find out more about our MRI patient information.

MRI leaflet
MRI patient information

How long does an MRI scan take?

This depends on which part of the body is being scanned however most simple scans are completed in 20-30 minutes.


Cobalt is known for its excellent claustrophobic patient service. Our staff have the knowledge and expertise required to guide patients through every step of the process at a comfortable pace with compassion and understanding.

In the unlikely event that our caring and experienced staff are not able to help you successfully complete your scan, we will not charge you.

We are here to help — If you have any fears or doubts, don’t hesitate to talk to one of our staff. If you would like to visit our Imaging Centre before your scan to have a look around, we would be delighted to assist you. Get in touch.


Siemens Innovision

Improving the MRI patient experience on our 1.5 Tesla scanner with comfort, speed, and entertainment

Cobalt is delighted to be the first Imaging Centre in the UK to offer MRI patients Innovision, an in-bore infotainment system that redefines the patient experience.

Innovision immerses patients in a sound and video experience, alleviating the anxiety that can be associated with MRI Imaging. Innovision ensures the patient is always engaged, taking the focus away from the inside of the MRI scanner, the scanning noise is less distracting and time passes by more quickly turning the visit into a much more relaxing experience.

30 Tesla Philips video cover image

Philips ambiance experience

Improving the MRI patient experience on our 3.0 Tesla scanner with an in-bore experience.

This sound and video experience can help to alleviate the anxiety that can be associated with MRI Imaging. Patients are constantly engaged, taking the focus away from the inside of the MRI scanner, the scanning noise is less distracting and time passes by more quickly turning the visit into a much more relaxing experience.

MRI mobile scanner

Mobile MRI hire

Referrer survey

Make a referral

MRI Scan Services South Wales

We operate a local MRI Service in Wales, located at the Welsh Institute of Chiropractic at the University of South Wales.
To find out more about this service, please visit our South Wales mobile MRI services page by clicking on the button below.

Please contact us if you have an appointment that you would like to discuss or rearrange. If you are able to travel to our Imaging Centre in Cheltenham you will be offered an appointment here.

patient scanning purple lights


If you have any questions or queries, we are happy to help so please do not hesitate to get in touch. Alternatively, please look at the questions we are asked most often.

Referral FAQ's

Cobalt does not provide health screening scans. If a scan is clinically needed, we require a referral from a medical professional (this can be a consultant, a GP, a physiotherapist, a chiropractor, an osteopath, or an extended scope practitioner).

No, we do not accept self-referrals.

We need a medically qualified practitioner to refer you for a scan. This could be a Consultant, GP, Osteopath, Physiotherapist, Chiropractor, Extended Scope Practitioner or dentist. The medical practitioner cannot refer you for a scan outside their expertise and referrals are only accepted in line with their professional scope of practice. For example a musculoskeletal specialist can only refer you for a scan of your musculoskeletal system such as bones, joints and muscles

Reports are usually completed within a working week.

CT is computerised tomography and is used to provide a picture of the structure inside your body. A special type of X-ray machine is used to produce cross sectional images of your body. This involves being exposed to a small amount of radiation. The dose is equivalent to the amount of natural radiation you would receive over a period of three years. (I will leave this section to RDS to approve, I have updated the MRI bit below)

MRI uses a powerful magnet providing high quality images. Structures in the body such as the brain, spine, breast, prostate, cartilage and ligaments in joints and muscles can be seen in much greater detail in all directions.

Before my scan FAQ's

There usually isn’t a need for any special preparation before your scan. We will ask you safety questions and be on hand to answer any queries you may have. The scanner uses a very powerful magnet so you will be asked to remove all metal objects before entering the scan room. This includes jewellery, body piercings, hair grips, clothing with metal such as zips and antimicrobial sports clothing which contains silver or metallic threads. Credit cards are also affected by the magnet – you can leave these and other valuables in the lockers provided. Please do not wear mascara if you are having a scan of your head or eyes as it contains fine metallic particles which affect the pictures.

You will be able to eat and drink as normal and take any medicine you have been prescribed unless we advise you otherwise when you book your appointment.

We will provide you with a gown or top and trousers if you are wearing clothes that contain metal. You may wear your own clothes if they do not contain metal.

You will need to remove all jewellery. We provide a locker to store any valuables.

Yes, wherever possible. We would advise discussing upon booking your scan.

Yes, if you are having a scan of your head and neck area, some make up contains fine metal particles, which can affect the quality of your images.

MRI scans use strong magnets to obtain images of your body and is one of the safest diagnostic imaging procedures available. Because we use strong magnets you will be asked safety questions upon booking your appointment and also prior to your scan when you attend about any metallic implants inside your body and also if you have anything metallic or magnetic on the outside or in clothing.

Increasingly cosmetics are containing metals which can interact with MRI magnets. New to the market are false eyelashes held onto the eye with magnetic liner or little magnets!! Therefore on the day of your MRI scan we advise you not to wear any makeup, false eyelashes or nail polish. Permanent makeup such as tattooed eyeliner or eyebrows may contain metals that may become warm during an MRI scan and cause skin or eye irritation. If you have permanent make up we can provide further guidance and answer any questions you may have before you attend for your scan. Give us a call if you have concerns or questions on 01242 535900.

Children are welcome to visit Cobalt, we provide a small children’s area with a selection of toys and books within the waiting room. However, we do ask that all children under 16 years of age are supervised by an accompanying adult in the waiting room at all times, they will not be allowed to accompany you beyond the waiting room.

During my scan FAQ's

There is no potentially harmful radiation used in an MRI scan, so it is considered to be very safe. However, because the scanner uses a strong magnet and is surrounded by a magnetic field it is important that you tell us if you have certain implants or if you have had certain operations. Some implants or devices are unsafe in a strong magnetic fields. We will complete a checklist with you when you book your scan and again on arrival. If you have a pacemaker, internal cardiac defibrillator, a certain type of arterial brain clip, a cochlear implant or a metal fragment in your eyes you CANNOT be scanned. Many implants are safe to scan following special conditions so implants such as knee or hip replacements and dental work can be scanned safely and will not prevent you from having a scan.

We may need to give you an injection of contrast. This is a dye which makes blood vessels and organs show up more clearly and give better images. This is normally given into the arm or the back of the hand by a qualified member of staff.

There are currently no known dangers from MRI, although we do not scan patients in the first three months of pregnancy unless essential.

Don’t worry about your scan. We are here to help. If you have any fears or doubts, don’t hesitate to talk to one of our staff. If you would like to visit the department before your scan to have a look around, please contact us.

For most scans yes but for body parts such as a foot or knee, it may not be necessary for your whole body to go into the scanner.

Yes, the scanner uses powerful magnets, which may cause the fragments to move in your eye and cause injury.

For some scans, yes. Please ask our Bookings Team when making your appointment and they will be able to give you an idea of whether to expect this or not.

Occasionally we can allow this but usually the best image is taken whilst flat on your back. We use specially designed pillows and pads to help you lie as comfortably as possible.

Most take up to 30 minutes but it will depend on the body part. This will be confirmed when you make your booking.

You may be allowed to have someone in the room with you. They will be required to have the necessary safety checks, for example to ensure there is no metal work in their body or clothing.

No, you will not be strapped down, the radiographers may use pillows or special pads to position you correctly and as comfortably as possible.

After you have been set up on the scanner, the radiographer will leave the room to take your images, however they will be watching you and can be with you within a few seconds if you need assistance. You will be given a buzzer to press if you have any problems or need to come out of the scanner.

Once you are settled on the bed, you will be given a buzzer to press if you have any problems or need to come out of the scanner.

Accessibility FAQ's

Yes, there is plenty of free parking on site at the Imaging Centre.

You will need to use a special MRI compatible wheelchair when you go through for your scan. These are available from the reception area.