MRI – Magnetic resonance imaging

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses an exceptionally strong magnet, radio frequency waves and a sophisticated computer to generate detailed grayscale images. No x-rays or ionising radiation is used.

The body or body part is placed within a magnet coil that detects shifting signals, which are encoded by the magnetic field gradients. Finally, powerful computers process the signal to form an image of the area of interest. The magnetic field and radiofrequency waves have not been shown to cause any long-term effects, but please note the relevant information in the clinical history section of the request form if a patient could be pregnant.


Before MRI

Because a strong magnet is used, patients with certain ferromagnetic implanted devices or prostheses should not have MRI scans. When a patient arrives, he or she will be asked to answer a series of safety questions. Patients with cardiac pacemakers, metal heart valves, some ear implants, certain brain aneurysm clips and various other medically implanted devices should not have MRI because the metal will respond to the strong magnetic field. Also, people with metallic foreign bodies in their eyes, through grinding or welding, are excluded from MRI.

Patients having a scan of the abdomen or pelvis may need to fast before the appointment, in order to avoid bowel and stomach movement. Our staff will advise if a patient needs to fast, and for how long, when the booking is made.

Patient's who suffer from claustrophobia might not feel comfortable within the magnet for the required time. Patients should advise our staff prior when booking an appointment if they claustrophobic, so that we can discuss the options.


During MRI

The MRI machine combines a doughnut-shaped magnet with a padded couch, which moves through the centre. Throughout the scan, the radiographer will maintain visual and voice contact with the patient. The switching of the magnet creates a muffled thumping sound, so the patient will be given hearing protection, which must be worn during the scan.

Sometimes, a small dose of gadolinium is injected through the arm vein to temporarily alter the magnetic properties of the body tissue and enhance anatomical detail. Our radiologist will determine whether an injection is needed, at the time of the scan.

MRI is painless and the patient will not feel any after effects, so he or she can resume normal activity straight away.

At Mackay Radiology, we accept MRI referrals from medical specialists, GPs and physiotherapists.  Only specialist referred HIC eligible examinations will attract a Medicare rebate.   If referred by a non-specialist (i.e. general practitioner) most patients will not be eligible for a Medicare rebate for their scan.  Our friendly staff can discuss the cost and Medicare eligibility at the time of your booking with you.

Please remind the patient to bring any previous relevant x-rays, CT, MRI or ultrasound films, as the radiologist reporting your MRI can review these and possibly improve the quality of the report.


After MRI

One of our radiologists will interpret the MRI and provide you with a comprehensive report about the findings. We will recommend that the patient return to the referring doctor to discuss the MRI result. Processing and reporting of the MRI could take up to two hours.

If you are a registered a referrer you can access a patient’s MRI images and report through our secure online archival system, or view the films we provide. For more information about registering to access patient images visit the Access Medinexus Portal section.

Any hardcopy images and report can generally be delivered to the referrer, by lunchtime on the next working day. If the patient needs to be reviewed on the day of the MRI, the patient can wait for the films and we will fax or email the results.

  • Prostate MRI

    Prostate magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a non-invasive medical test that can diagnose and stage prostate cancer, which causes around 3300 deaths in Australian men each year. Prostate cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in men, and...

    Find out more
  • Paediatric MRI

    Patients under 16 years of age are now eligible for Medicare benefits when a general practitioners orders an MRI for: Scan of head for any of the following - unexplained seizure(s), unexplained headache where significant pathology is suspected, and...

    Find out more
  • New GP Access to Adult MRI

    As of 1 November 2013, General Practitioners are able to refer patients over the age of 16 for MRI investigations for a small range of clinically appropriate indications. This is in addition to the GP access to paediatric MRI introduced in November 2012....

    Find out more