Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses an exceptionally strong magnet, radio frequency waves and a sophisticated computer to generate detailed grayscale images. No x-rays or ionising radiation is used.

The body or body part is placed within a magnet coil that detects shifting signals, which are encoded by the magnetic field gradients. Finally, powerful computers process the signal to form an image of the area of interest. The magnetic field and radiofrequency waves have not been shown to cause any long-term effects, but please note the relevant information in the clinical history section of the request form if a patient could be pregnant.

South Coast Radiology has MRI at:


Before MRI

Because a strong magnet is used, patients with certain ferromagnetic implanted devices or prostheses should not have MRI scans. When a patient arrives, he or she will be asked to answer a series of safety questions. Patients with cardiac pacemakers, metal heart valves, some ear implants, certain brain aneurysm clips and various other medically implanted devices should not have MRI because the metal will respond to the strong magnetic field. Also, people with metallic foreign bodies in their eyes, through grinding or welding, are excluded from MRI.

Patients having a scan of the abdomen or pelvis may need to fast before the appointment, in order to avoid bowel and stomach movement. Our staff will advise if a patient needs to fast, and for how long, when the booking is made.

Patient's who suffer from claustrophobia might not feel comfortable within the magnet for the required time. Patients should advise our staff prior when booking an appointment if they claustrophobic, so that we can discuss the options.


During MRI

The MRI machine combines a doughnut-shaped magnet with a padded couch, which moves through the centre. Throughout the scan, the radiographer will maintain visual and voice contact with the patient. The switching of the magnet creates a muffled thumping sound, so the patient will be given hearing protection, which must be worn during the scan.

Sometimes, a small dose of gadolinium is injected through the arm vein to temporarily alter the magnetic properties of the body tissue and enhance anatomical detail. Our radiologist will determine whether an injection is needed, at the time of the scan.

MRI is painless and the patient will not feel any after effects, so he or she can resume normal activity straight away.

At South Coast Radiology, we accept MRI referrals from medical specialists, GPs and physiotherapists.  GP's have access to a limited number of MRI examinations for both adult and paediatric patients.  Medical specialists have access to a larger number of MRI examinations.  However, not all MRI examinations attract a Medicare rebate.

Our MRI Bookings staff can discuss your options regarding whether a Medicare rebate is available for your scan, at the time of booking.  Please contact them on 5597 0677, press 1 for bookings.


After MRI

One of our radiologists will interpret the MRI and provide you with a comprehensive report about the findings. We will recommend that the patient return to the referring doctor to discuss the MRI result. Processing and reporting of the MRI could take up to two hours.

If you are a registered a referrer you can access a patient’s MRI images and report through our secure online archival system, or view the films we provide. For more information about registering to access patient images visit the Access Medinexus Portal section.

Any hardcopy images and report can generally be delivered to the referrer, by lunchtime on the next working day. If the patient needs to be reviewed on the day of the MRI, the patient can wait for the films and we will fax or email the results.

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