MRI FAQs

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We understand that you might have lots of questions about what to expect when you come for a scan, how to find us or what happens next after your appointment. Please take a look here at the questions we are often asked. If you still have questions, we are happy to help please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Referrals

  • I would like to book myself for a whole body scan for my peace of mind, is that possible?

    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 chiroprator, an osteopath, an extended scope practitioner or dentist).

  • I'm a medical professional, can I refer myself?

    No, we do not accept self-referrals.

  • I'm in pain, can I refer myself?

    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.

  • How long will I have to wait for my report?

    Reports are usually completed in 2 working days and sent to your referrer, however we state up to 5 working days to ensure it is received by your referrer within this time.

  • What's the difference between CT and MRI?

    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.

    MRI uses a powerful magnet providing high quality images. Surfaces, cartilage, ligaments and muscles can be seen in greater detail.

Before my scan

  • How do I prepare for my scan?

    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.

  • What items of jewellery do I need to remove?

    You will need to remove all jewellery apart from wedding rings. We provide a locker to store any valuables.

  • I've got ear/body piercings, do I have to remove them?

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

  • I've been told I can't wear make up during my scan, is this true?

    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.

  • Can I bring my child along to my appointment?

    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

  • Is it safe?

    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.

  • Will I need an injection?

    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.

  • What if I am pregnant?

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

  • I'm nervous - is there anyone I can talk to?

    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.

  • Does my whole body need to go into the scanner?

    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.

  • I used to be a metal worker 30 years ago and I have metal fragments in my eye from this, does it matter?

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

  • Will my head be in the scanner?

    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.

  • I don't like lying on my back, can I lie on my side or tummy?

    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.

  • How long will the scan take?

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

  • Can I take someone in with me?

    Only if you are being scanned on the open scanner, 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.

  • Will I feel anything?

    No.

  • Will I be strapped down?

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

  • Am I left alone on the scanner?

    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.

  • Is there an escape route off 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.

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