Magnetic Resonance Imaging uses magnetic fields and specialised radio waves to produce images of all parts of the body.

MRI or MR stands for magnetic resonance imaging or magnetic resonance. Magnetic Resonance is a relatively new and advanced imaging technique and does not use x-rays. MR uses radio waves in the presence of a large magnetic field. These radio waves are used to produce images of particular parts of your body such as the brain, spine and knee. These pictures assist the radiologist (a doctor specialising in MRI) in diagnosing your health problems.


How to Prepare?

No special preparation is required for most scans see the exceptions below. On arrival you will be asked to complete a safety questionnaire, to rule out any contraindications etc mentioned over. Leave off as much jewellery as possible and please as little eye make-up as possible.

Bring your old X-Rays particularly any CT or previous MRI studies not performed at North Shore Radiology.

All MRI, CT and ultrasound studies performed at North Shore Radiology have soft copies stored on our archive since November 2006. X-ray, mammography and bone mineral densitometry have been stored in our archive since December 2006. We always have your images available onsite from the above dates.

Continue to take all usual medications.

Special Preparation - Pain medication

If you are taking pain medication, please take it prior to your scan. This will assist you with maximum pain relief during your scan and allow you to be still and comfortable.

Special Preparation - Claustrophobia

Some patients benefit from the use of a sedative if they suffer from a fear of enclosed spaces (claustrophobia). Sedation must be arranged prior to the scan. Patients having sedation are required to fast for six hours prior to the scan. Following your sedation and MRI scan you will not be released until the nursing staff are satisfied that the effects of sedation have passed. If you have sedation you must be accompanied by a relative or friend to take you home. Our nursing staff will also advise you not to drive or operate heavy equipment for 24 hours after your sedation. Please contact us for further information. NB: Prior arrangement must be made if sedation is required.

Special Preparation - Abdomen

If you are having scans of the abdomen, you will be required to fast (consume no food or drink) for four hours. This assists the radiographers in demonstrating the organs clearly. If you are diabetic or need to take medication, please contact us before your appointment to discuss your preparation with one of our staff.

What to expect?

You will be asked to change into a gown and remove your watch, wallet and jewellery and any metallic objects. These may be left with a relative or friend or in a secure locker provided. After you have entered the MRI room you will be positioned on the padded scanner table. This table will move you so that the part of your body to be investigated is in the middle of the scanner/ magnet. Sometimes a local coil or antenna is placed over the area of interest eg; the shoulder.

The MRI Radiographer controls the examination from a separate room next to the scanner. You will be able to talk to him/her at all times.

We collect a series of images from different directions to provide as much information about your health problem. Each set of images will take several minutes to complete so it is important that you remain still.

During the scan you will hear a banging sound as the magnet collects the information from around you. As this banging sound can be quite loud at times you will be asked to wear earplugs during the study.

Some patients find the MR machine slightly constricting and should you suffer from claustrophobia please mention this to the nursing staff or your doctor prior to coming to the MR suite as some sedation may be required, special arrangements will be required in advance for this to happen. Some scans require an injection of a special dye (contrast) into a vein in your arm. This is usually performed towards the end of an examination and this dye is different to that used in CT scans and other x-ray examinations. You will feel no after effects and should you have an injection of the special dye this will not affect your conscious level.

The MR scan does not cause pain and as far as we know has no harmful effects. It is important to remember that this test is being done for your benefit in trying to obtain further information concerning your health problem and therefore it is very important to cooperate and remain still so the best images can be obtained.


You should feel no after effects; you can drive a car unless you required sedation. If you required sedation you must have someone else to drive you home.

The Radiologist will study your films and prepare a written report. The films will be sent to your doctor who will discuss the results with you. Under special circumstances you may wait and take the films with you and the report will be sent separately to your doctor. The reporting takes some time as there is a lot of information to be reviewed. Your reports and images are archived indefi nitely for future review.