At London Imaging Centre we provide high quality MRI at an affordable price for self-funding patients. Gain a better understanding of MRI in this short guide.
What is an MRI scan?
MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging. It’s a safe and painless way to create a detailed image of organs, soft-tissue and bones. An MRI uses magnetic fields and radio frequencies to produce multiple images, or “slices”, through a section of the body.
What is an MRI scan used for?
Some imaging techniques, like X-rays, are limited in the detail they provide. But with an MRI scan the images produced are incredibly detailed and useful to a clinician. An investigation of almost any part of the body, from the head to the toes, is possible.
A referring clinician will normally request an MRI to:
- Rule out a condition
- Diagnose a condition
- Plan treatments
- Assess how effective a treatment has been
What does an MRI involve?
Mainly, it’s a lot of lying down and relaxing. The scanner is shaped like a long doughnut, into which you are slid while resting on a bed. A radiographer then performs the scan, which takes up to an hour depending on how many body regions are being scanned. All that is asked of you, is that you keep as still as possible. Some people find MRI scanners noisy, so we provide earplugs or headphones for all patients depending on your scan.
Why use London Imaging Centre?
We’re imaging specialists, so we’re able to perform a wide range of MRI scans. Our areas of expertise include:
- Head & neck
- Elite Sports Injuries
- Temporomandibular Dysfunction
- Gynaecology and Abdomen
We are conveniently located in the heart of the Harley Street district in Central London, just a few minutes walk from Oxford Circus or Bond Street station.
How safe is an MRI?
Very. An MRI is one of the safest medical procedures available. Unlike other types of diagnostic imaging, such as X-rays or CT scans, an MRI will NOT expose your body to radiation. Instead, MRI uses strong magnetic fields. MRI is not suitable for everyone, however most people have MRI scans without experiencing complications.
We would not recommend an MRI for:
- Patients with pacemakers or metal implants
The magnetic field is very strong and so it could move or interfere with a metal medical device implanted into the body. This is particularly true of battery-operated devices such as pacemakers.
- Pregnant women
This is just a precaution. There is no evidence to suggest that an MRI scans poses a risk to mother or child.
You should consult your referring clinician if you are pregnant or have any metal implant. Together you can make a decision about whether an MRI is appropriate for you.
Is an MRI painful?
No. The actual MRI scan is painless and you may even find the chance to lie down quite relaxing. For most people there is little else to it. For a few people there will be an injection of contrast dye during the MRI. As with all injections, this may cause some discomfort, but do not worry because our radiographers are trained to put you at ease.
Does an MRI require an injection?
Normally no. But certain types of MRIs do need a contrast dye injection. This makes some tissues and blood vessels show up in greater detail. If you have a dislike of needles and are concerned, then contact your referring clinician or London Imaging Centre, we’ll be happy to help.
If you have a history of kidney disease you may need to provide a blood test to determine how well your kidneys are functioning. In very rare cases the contrast dye can cause tissue and organ damage in people with severe kidney disease.
What preparation do I need to do before my MRI?
Usually, very little. There are just three things to remember before your MRI appointment.
1. Fill out the safety questionnaire
You should receive this before your appointment by email. Once completed, please send it to back to us. Give us a quick phone call if you are unsure about any of the questions.
2. Be aware of requests regarding food, drink and children
On the day of your MRI, you should be able eat and drink as usual. But there are exceptions. Some scans request you do not eat or drink up to two hours before. You will be told if this affects you. If you are unsure, then please contact us. We’ll be happy to advise you. We do have an area where children can wait while you have your scan, however it is unsupervised. As such, it is preferable if children are not brought to our centre. This will also help us perform your scan quickly and without distractions.
3. Arrive on time
We ask that you try to keep to your appointment time. Please don’t worry if you’re a few minutes late, but the later you are, the greater the risk that we may not be able to carry out your test.
What happens when I arrive?
Our staff will be able to guide you through the procedure when you arrive. They’ve done this many times, so you’ll be in knowledgeable hands. So you’re fully aware of the procedure, it involves 3 simple steps.
As soon as you arrive, a member of staff will take your name and arrange for you to meet your radiographer.
2. Radiographer consultation
The radiographer who will be performing your scan is highly trained and incredibly knowledgeable so feel free to ask all the questions you like. Make sure you let the radiographer know if you are anxious about anything, such as enclosed spaces or injections.
Together, you will go through the safety questionnaire to double-check your answers. It is important you tell your radiographer if you have any metal implants such as pacemakers or drug infusion ports.
3. Metal object removal
The magnetic fields produced by the MRI scanner are very strong. While this doesn’t affect you, it will attract metal. As such, it’s important to remove any metal objects from the outside of your body. These include:
- Jewellery, such as earrings and necklaces
- Credit cards
- Piercings, such as ear, navel and nose rings
- Dentures (false teeth)
- Hearing aids
- Wigs (some wigs contain traces of metal)
You may be asked to wear a hospital gown during the procedure. If you do not want to wear a gown, you should wear clothes without metal zips, fasteners, buttons, belts or buckles.
Please inform your radiographer if you have any medical devices implanted in your body.
How is an MRI scan performed?
An MRI scanner is a circular tunnel about 1.5 metres long. It is open at both ends. You can get a general idea of the MRI process below, but be aware different scans have slightly different processes, as much as different radiographers may do things differently.
1. Get comfy: You lie on a motorised bed. The radiographer will help position you and give you a set of earplugs for the noise.
2. Have equipment positioned: A device will be placed around the part of your body being scanned. This picks up the MRI signal, so where it is placed will vary depending on the region being scanned.
3. Execute pre-scan checks: The radiographer will check you are comfy and happy. You can communicate with the radiographer at any time throughout the scan.
4. Enter the scanner: The radiographer will slide you into the scanner.
5. Perform the scan: When the scan begins you will hear a loud drumming noise and some clicking, while it’s not excessive, you will be thankful of the earplugs. This noise will continue throughout the scan. Lie as still as possible until the radiographer tells you the scan has finished.
How long will the scan take?
An MRI can take up to an hour or more depending on how many regions of the body are being scanned. But don’t worry, you don’t need to be still for the whole time as the scan is broken down into several sequences.
Will I feel claustrophobic?
Our MRI scanner is a tube-like tunnel and is open at both ends. Many patients find this open-ended design removes confined or enclosed feelings. Please also be assured that our radiographers are highly skilled at calming patients. They should put you at ease, make you comfortable and continue to communicate with you throughout your scan. If you have any concerns then please let us know. In order to put you at ease, we created a short video showing you what to expect at your MRI appointment, you can view this here
High quality MRI at an affordable price
At London Imaging Centre we have always been known for the quality of our diagnostic services. Introducing longer opening hours and weekend appointments has enabled us to spread our costs and offer the same high quality service but at an even more Affordable price. Our current most affordable rate for self-funding patients for a standard region MRI scan is £190* if pre-paid online on our portal.
Regions included in Affordable MRIs
- Lumbar spine
- Thoracic spine
- Cervical spine
Our prices depend on when you choose to book a scan and what body region you are having scanned and how you would like to pay for the scan. Our affordable rates are available throughout the week. Please call us or log in to our portal TREVOR to see all our prices live.
Specialist and Complex Scans
London Imaging Centre offer a wide range of MRI scans including complex and specialist scans as well as those that require contrast (gadolinium).
Regions included in Specialist & Complex MRIs
- Tempormandibular joints
- Contrast scans
* We offer a limited-time 5% discount to all self-pay patients who prepay online on our portal TREVOR.
When will I get the results?
A Consultant Radiologist will study your scan and send a report to your referring clinician. This will happen within one working day (excluding bank holidays). You should arrange an appointment with your referring clinician to discuss the results.
We provide same day, urgent reporting by prior request only.
What should I do if I don’t hear anything?
Contact your clinician who referred you or give us a call on 020 7042 1888. We may be able to contact your referring clinician on your behalf.
How do I book an MRI?
You will need a referral from your clinician. You or your referring clinician can then book an appointment using one of 3 simple ways:
- Complete our secure online booking form – fill one in here
- Send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or fax us your referral to 020 7631 1604
- Call us on 020 7042 1888 – our bookings team will be happy to discuss and arrange an appointment
For peace of mind, all patients will receive a booking confirmation, either by phone, email or both.
How do I change my booking?
We are happy to reschedule your appointment at any time. We ask that you give us plenty of notice so the appointment can be made available to other patients. We are open from 8am to 10pm on weekdays and 8am to 8pm on weekends.
All you need to do is complete our step by step booking form and leave the rest to us. We will email or call you to confirm your booking*. Alternatively, you can request call back and one of our Reservations Team will be happy to contact you.
*Online booking is available for single region appointments only. All bookings are also dependent on confirmation via email from our Reservations Team and prices may vary based on your referral form. Call us on 020 7042 1888 for further advice or information.