Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a type of scan that uses strong magnetic fields and radio waves to produce detailed images of the inside of the body.
An MRI scan can be used to examine almost any part of the body, including the:
- Brain and spinal cord
- Bones and joints
- Heart and blood vessels
- Internal organs, such as the liver, womb or prostate gland
- During an MRI scan, you lie on a flat bed that's moved into the scanner. Depending on the part of your body being scanned, you'll be moved into the scanner either head first or feet first.
- The MRI scanner is operated by a radiographer, who is trained in carrying out imaging investigations. They control the scanner using a computer, which is in a different room, to keep it away from the magnetic field generated by the scanner.
- You'll be able to talk to the radiographer through an intercom and they'll be able to see you on a television monitor throughout the scan.
- At certain times during the scan, the scanner will make loud tapping noises. This is the electric current in the scanner coils being turned on and off. You'll be given earplugs or headphones to wear.
- It's very important to keep as still as possible during your MRI scan. The scan lasts 15 to 90 minutes, depending on the size of the area being scanned and how many images are taken.