Inside Look: What Happens During an MRI Scan and How Does It Work?

Samantha Holt, is a Clinical Technologist in Nuclear Medicine in medical imaging, in this article she explains what to expect when you go for an MRI scan.

What is an MRI scan?

This scanner is often referred to as “the tunnel” and is a short tube open at both ends. Instead of radiation, powerful magnetic fields and radio waves are used to generate detailed 3D images of the body’s organs and tissues. These machines are particularly good at showing diseases that a CT cannot detect. Some cancers are hard to detect on a CT scan but can be seen on an MRI. This is why your doctor may ask for both scans to be done.  

Things To Note:

  • You cannot go into an MRI if you have metal implants such as artificial joints, a pacemaker, shunts etc. These days many implants are “MRI safe” but it is always a good idea to let the radiographer know of any. 
  • If you are claustrophobic, you may find this scanner uncomfortable. The staff will ensure you are comfortable and reassure you. They will not be in the room with you but can see and hear you at all times. 

What happens at an appointment?

When you arrive for the scan, you will be required to fill out a questionnaire. The questionnaire will ask you about your medical history, including any prior surgeries or allergies you may have. Depending on the area of your body that needs to be scanned, you may be asked to change into a hospital gown. You will have to remove any metal objects such as belts, necklaces, and piercings as they can interfere with the images produced. For safety, please leave all jewellery at home.

You will lie down on the imaging couch and the staff will ensure you are comfortable as you will need to stay still for the scan. They will provide you with earplugs or headphones as this scan is very noisy. Loud tapping noises will be heard during the scan and are caused by the electric current in the scanner coils being turned on and off. 

In some cases, a frame may be placed over a part of your body which helps to produce a better quality image. The imaging couch moves into the tunnel to the relevant part of the body. The scan may take anything from 15 minutes to 90 minutes.


Samantha is also a Cancer Coach offering coaching to cancer patients.

You can find out more about her on her website Back To Life

Contact Samantha by email or phone: 07341 195741

Samantha Holt

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