In this section
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a way of taking detailed
pictures of the inside of the body. It is useful for looking at
many parts of the body and often gives extra information to plain
X-rays, ultrasounds or CT scans.
During an MRI scan, the part of the body being scanned will have
images taken from several different angles. That's why the images are so detailed.
MRI uses radio waves in a strong magnetic field to obtain the
pictures. It is generally only the noises made by the machine that
people are aware of during the imaging; there are no strange
The magnetic field and radio waves used in MRI are believed to
be safe even for unborn babies. There is no ionizing radiation
(e.g. X-rays) used in MRI.
It is important to listen carefully when we ask you
questions. The MRI scanner is like a big square box with a tunnel
through the middle. During an MRI scan you have to lie very still in
the tunnel, usually on your back. The MRI machine makes some loud
knocking noises which change during the study.
The table you lie on is narrow. You can see what is happening
through mirrors that are positioned so you can see around the room, and you can talk to the MRI technologist performing
the scan through a microphone and headphones. The scan time will
vary depending on which or how many parts of the body are being examined,
but will usually take 25-45 minutes.
Foam cushions and soft straps are used to help you keep still. A
soft flexible wrap goes over your stomach and records the radio
waves for the pictures. If you like, you can wear headphones to muffle the loud knocking noise of the machine.
In most instances you will be scanned in your normal clothes, however occasionally it may be necessary to change into a gown or other
The MRI scan is long and boring so you can bring a favourite DVD,
CD or plug your iPod into our MRI compatible sound system to help
pass the time. Your DVD or music from your iPod are streamed into the
MRI scan room using MR safe technology.
No injections are used during the procedure unless your scan
requires intravenous MR contrast; see Kids Health Info factsheet: MRI with contrast.
One person may stay with you in the MRI room, provided they
follow the rules and special precautions.
All people entering the MRI room need to fill out an MRI
questionnaire before the scan. It asks about your medical history
and helps the MRI department ensure your safety and that of any
accompanying person who may stay with you in the scanning room. It
is very important that this questionnaire is filled in
The magnet may affect some medical devices that have been
implanted in your body. These include older style pacemakers, implanted
defibrillators, various nerve stimulators, infusion pumps and
In general, all body piercings and other jewellery must
be removed. This is because the metal in the piercing may affect
the quality of the scan.
The following items are affected by the magnet and are not allowed
into the scanning room for safety reasons: watches, pens, keys,
jewellery, hair pins, safety pins, mobile phones, credit cards,
pagers, radios and CD players.
MRI scans have many pictures with great detail that often take a
long time for the radiologist (medical imaging specialist) to
review and report on. The technologist performing the study will not
be able to give you any information about the imaging findings at
the time of the examination. Clerical staff can not give out
results over the telephone.
We will try to get the result of your scan to your doctor before
your next appointment.
If you have any questions about why you need an MRI scan, or
questions about the results of your MRI scan, please speak to your
MRI is located in Medical Imaging on the lower ground floor of the north building at The Royal Children's Hospital.
Although we try to be on time, we are sometimes delayed by
emergency scans. You will be able to leave immediately after your
Developed by the RCH Dept
of Medical Imaging. First published: October