Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is mainly used in neurology and neurosurgery to evaluate the brain, spinal cord and spinal nerves, as well as the pelvic and abdominal cavity.
  • It plays an important role in the orthopaedic evaluation of joints and some bone conditions and is very valuable to assess the spread of cancer, especially to the brain, but also to the bones and the rest of the body.
  • An MRI provides important information regarding certain heart conditions, specifically congenital and functional conditions and is an important tool in determining the viability of an injured heart muscle.
  • At our Panorama branch, we have a unique setup of a 1.5T and 3T units that are installed side by side. The 3T unit is an ultra-compact patient friendly unit with the best-in-class magnet.  With the ambient light options the patient can select their favourite colour in which the room is to be lit – children in particular find this appealing. 
  • The bore (tunnel) has a patient aperture of 70cm that flares at both sides. This allows for more space between the patient and the tunnel and enhances the patient comfort. This is especially valuable for very claustrophobic and larger patients.   
  • Our Louis Leipoldt and Christiaan Barnard branches also have a wide bore.
General Information
  • MR (Magnetic Resonance) also known as MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) is a non-invasive technique utilising magnetic fields and radio waves to examine the body.  As such, it provides a unique means of visualising the body’s internal structures.
  • MRI:
    • Does not use X-Rays.
    • Produces anatomical images, but also provides some physiological and pathological information through the use of a great variety of different imaging sequences, mainly based on changes in hydrogen (water) content in tissue.
    • Provides both additional and enhanced information through its ability to image the body in a number of planes.
    • Complements Ultrasound, conventional X-Rays and Radioisotope studies (but no X-Rays, sound waves or radioactive materials are utilised during the study).
  • Specific areas where MRI excels include the brain, vertebral canal and spinal cord, as well as the heart, abdomen, limbs and joints.
  • MRI has no side-effects.
Before your MRI
  • Please arrive 15 minutes early to complete all the necessary paperwork.
  • You can also download the patient information form here. 
  • Ladies should not wear mascara when scheduled for studies of the head and neck, as this often contains metal that causes artefacts on the images.
  • Should you suffer from nasal congestion, it might be beneficial to use a nasal decongestant prior to your examination.
  • If you think you will need sedation, please bring someone that will be able to take you home.
  • Be ready to discuss your overall health and answer routine questions. This includes any symptoms you may have and why you need the procedure.
Let the Radiographer know
  • If there is any possibility that you might be pregnant.
  • If you wear a pacemaker, hearing aid or have an artificial heart valve, cochlear implant, any other implants, orthopaedic prostheses, aneurysm clips, or have shrapnel in the eye or body (this is for the success of the procedure and for your safety).
  • If you suffer from claustrophobia.
What to expect
  • The examination will be performed by a trained Radiographer and reported on by a Radiologist.
  • Due to the very strong magnetic field, all necessary precautions are taken against introducing metal into the MRI room. You will therefore be required to wear the gown provided.
  • You will lie on your back and depending on the part of the body being examined you will be placed in the unit (that is in the shape of a short tunnel) either head or feet first.
  • The so-called tunnel is similar to that encountered in a conventional CT scanner and is open at both ends.
  • You will be in constant intercom contact with the Radiographer who also has direct visualisation of you.
  • You will only be aware of a knocking sound during the examination (if you wish, we can supply you with ear plugs to reduce the noise that is produced by radio waves).
  • In some instances the intravenous injection of a contrast agent is also necessary. When joints are imaged it may be required for the contrast medium to be injected directly into the joint prior to the study.
  • SCP has a wide bore unit at its Panorama MRI Centre, as well at its Louis Leipoldt and Christiaan Barnard branches. This means that the bore is wider than the standard 60cm and is particularly helpful to accommodate very claustrophobic as well as larger patients.
  • You will be given a panic button should you require immediate attention from the Radiographer.
  • For best results:
    • Cooperation with the Radiographer is essential to the success of the procedure.
    • You will have to remain as still as possible throughout the short examination. This will prevent the need to repeat any part of the study and will also save time and any possible discomfort.
About the MRI
  • You will receive a CD with the images and the report will be sent to your doctor.
  • You can return to your normal routine right away, unless you are advised not to.
  • If you needed sedation you will not be allowed to drive for the next 24 hours.