What is MRI?
MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) uses sophisticated technology with a magnetic field and radio waves to generate detailed images of internal organs and other structures in the body. It excites and detects change in the direction of spin of protons found in the water that makes up living tissues. This allows doctors to see your injury or medical condition non-invasively in order to determine the best course of action for your medical treatment.
What is an MRI used for?
MRI scanning is used for detection of disease, diagnosis and treatment monitoring. Common uses are to diagnose early stages of cancer; brain, spine and nerve abnormalities; as well as injury to soft tissue, bone, joint and muscle. MRI scans allow for earlier detection of medical conditions, resulting in faster treatment and more favourable outcomes.
Are MRI scans safe?
MRI scans are safer than X-ray or CT scans because patients are not exposed to any ionizing radiation. The examination is pain-free and does not usually require any special preparations.
What is the procedure?
Examinations typically take about 30 minutes, consisting of several scans lasting 2 to 5 minutes each. You will be asked to remove any metallic objects you are carrying including your eyeglasses, watch, jewelry, dentures, hearing aids and make-up. The technologist will position you comfortably on a cushioned table, then move the table into the space in the centre of the magnet. He or she is in contact with you visually and with an intercom. During the scanning procedure, you will hear a knocking and humming sound for several minutes at a time. Other than the sound, the MRI usually causes minimal bodily sensation. You need to lie as still as possible throughout the scan, as any movement could blur the image. When the exam is done, the technologist will help you off the table.
Is there an injection required?
In some situations, a substance known as a contrast agent is required to enhance the ability of the MRI to see into your body. Sometimes your doctor and/or the Radiologist, might determine that an injection into a joint or a vein in your arm would be necessary to acquire better images. The fluid injected is called contrast (Gadolinium). About 15 - 20% of all MRI studies around the world use contrast. It may be known at the time of booking your exam that contrast is required depending on the body part you are having scanned. Sometimes it is determined during your MRI that contrast is needed as it provides the Radiologist with important information for a more accurate diagnosis. This would only be done after discussion with you.
Can anyone have an MRI scan?
Some people may not have an MRI. Due to the strong magnetic field required to create an MRI scan, certain internal metallic objects may exclude you from having an MRI. These include pacemakers, neuro-stimulators, some types of intracranial aneurysm clips, implanted drug infusion devices, foreign metal objects in the eye, shrapnel, bullet wounds and some intra-uterine contraceptive devices (IUCDs). If you have been a sheet metal worker, a machinist or have had a prior metallic injury that has not been removed by a physician, you may need an X-ray before determining if an MRI scan is safe for you. All parts of your body are exposed to the magnetic field so we need to know your medical history to determine if it is safe for you to have an MRI.
What if I suffer from claustrophobia?
Our system offers generous patient access, fresh air flow, ambient lighting and a modern design. Scans of the lower extremities (eg. knees, ankles, feet) are done feet first and will therefore have the patient's head outside of the magnet. If claustrophobia is still a concern, your referring doctor may prescribe a mild sedative, which has been found to be effective most of the time.
What do I need to wear?
We will supply you with a hospital gown and pants - all patients must be changed into provided garments for your safety.
How do I make an appointment?
You can call us at 1-844-425-5267. You can also complete our requisition form online and submit it to us directly.
For a copy of our online requisition form, please click here.
Requisition forms can be dropped off, mailed, faxed or scanned and emailed to our office. Once we receive the requisition form, we will call you to schedule an appointment at your earliest convenience. If you already have an MRI requisition signed by a physician certified in Canada that is different than our requisition form, that is also acceptable.
Will my medical benefits cover my MRI scan?
Some extended health plans may cover all, or a portion of, these costs. Please check your plan for details. Some employers, disability insurers (Workers Compensation) and third party payers may cover the costs of the MRI examination for you. Payment is to be made at the time of the examination. We accept Visa, Mastercard, Debit and cash - we do not accept personal cheques.
What happens after the scan?
There are no after-effects from an MRI scan. If you received contrast, you may be asked to wait at U3T for a short time to ensure it is safe for you to leave. If you received a sedative from your doctor for the scan, you will need someone to drive you home. Otherwise, you can resume normal activities as soon as the scan is over. Your scans are read by a Radiologist who will issue a report to your referring physician and/or family doctor. U3T can also send the report to yourself and any other health care professional you require.