Nanaimo MRI Scan Information

What is MRI?

MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) machines use a magnetic field, radio waves and computer technology to generate detailed images of internal organs, body tissue and anatomy. This allows physicians non-invasive access to the injury or to analyze the medical condition to determine the best course of action for your medical treatment. MRI scans allow for earlier detection of medical conditions, resulting in faster treatment and more favourable outcomes.

Are MRI Scans Safe?

MRI scans are very safe with no exposure to harmful radiation. They are safer than X Ray or CT scans because patients aren’t exposed any ionizing radiation. The examination is pain-free and does not require any special preparations.

What are MRIs used for?

MRI scanning is used to diagnose early stages of cancer, brain, neurological, spine and nerve abnormalities, as well as injury to soft tissue, bone, joint and muscle injuries.

What is the MRI scan procedure?

Examinations typically take less than 30 minutes, consisting of several scans lasting 2 to 5 minutes each. You will be asked to remove your make-up, eyeglasses, watch, jewelry, credit cards, dentures, hearing aids and any other metallic objects you are carrying. The technologist will position you comfortably on a cushioned table. Once you are settled in place the technologist moves the bed 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 thumping sound for several minutes at a time. Other than the sound, the MRI causes no bodily sensation. You need to lie as still as possible throughout the scan. Any movement during the scan could blur the image. When the exam is done, the technologist will help you off the table.

Is 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, in discussion with the Radiologist, might deem an injection into a joint or a vein to help provide better images. The fluid injected is call contrast (chemical name Gadolinium). About 15 - 20% of all MRI studies the world over use contrast.

Are there restrictions to an MRI Scan?

Yes, because of the strong magnetic field required to create an MRI scan any internal metallic objects preclude you from having an MRI. These include pacemakers, neuro-stimulators, ferrous intracranial aneurysm chips, implanted drug infusion devices, metal implants, surgical staples, foreign metal objects in the eye, shrapnel, bullet wounds, tattoos or Intrauterine devices (IUDs). If you have been a sheet metal worker or a machinist MRI scans may not be advisable.

All parts of your body are exposed to an MRI scan so we need to know your medical history to determine if an MRI scan may be detrimental to your health.

What if I suffer from claustrophobia?

Our scanner permits most scans to be conducted with the patient’s head outside the magnet which greatly eases the feeling of claustrophobia. Our system offers generous patient access, fresh air flow, ambient lighting and a modern design. Your referring Doctor may prescribe a mild sedative which has been found to be effective in controlling claustrophobia most of the time.

What should I wear?

Loose comfortable clothing with no metallic objects is generally satisfactory. We can supply a you with hospital gown if required.

How do I book an appointment?

You need to be referred by a physician certified with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia. We require a Requisition Form signed by your referring physician. For a copy of our Requisition Form please click here. Requisition Forms can be dropped off, mailed, faxed or scanned and emailed to your 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 with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia that is different than our Requisition Form that is also acceptable.

Do my medical benefits cover my MRI scan?

The Medical Services Plan of British Columbia does not generally cover the cost of a private MRI scan. Most extended health plans do not cover these costs either.  Please check your plan for details. Some employers, disability insurers (WorkSafe BC, ICBC) 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.

Should you prefer we also accept major credit cards and offer a plan that permits payment over time upon acceptance.

Are there after effects following a the scan?

There are no after effects from an MRI scan. 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 doctor.