Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) uses an exceptionally strong magnet, radio frequency waves and a sophisticated computer to generate detailed high-quality images about structures and processes within your body. MRI provides helpful information to your doctor which aids the diagnose your condition and plan your treatment options.

  • What is an 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 images of the area of interest. These high-quality images provide information to your doctor about structures and processes within your body. This helps your doctor diagnose your condition and plan your treatment options.

    At South Coast Radiology, we have the only two fully Medicare eligible MRI services at John Flynn and Pindara Private Hospital on the Gold Coast. 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 majority of MRI examinations, however, not all MRI examinations attract a Medicare rebate. Our MRI bookings team can discuss your options regarding whether a Medicare rebate is available for your scan, at the time of your booking.

  • BEFORE AN MRI

    Because a strong magnet is used, patients with certain ferromagnetic or electronic implanted devices or prostheses may not be able to undergo an MRI procedure. 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 may not be able to have a MRI because the metal or electronics will respond to the strong magnetic field. We may require further information on certain devices to determine their compatibility in the MRI environment. Also, people with metallic foreign bodies in their eyes, through grinding or welding, may be excluded from MRI.  An X-ray of the eyes may be required to clear the eyes of any metal fragments.

    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.

    Patients 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 options.

  • DURING AN MRI

    The MRI machine combines an open-ended magnet with a padded bed, which moves through the centre. The body region of interest is also placed within a device called a ‘receiver coil’. Throughout the scan, the radiographer will maintain visual and voice contact with the patient. The switching of the magnetic gradients creates a loud thumping sound, so the patient will be given hearing protection, which must be worn during the scan.  Different sites may also be able to offer music during your scan. Discuss this with the radiographer on the day to see if this is an option for you.

    You will be required to remain motionless for the entirety of the scan to obtain high-quality images. If you believe this could be a concern please notify our friendly booking staff when you make your appointment.

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

  • AFTER AN MRI

    MRI is painless and you will not feel any after effects, you can resume normal activity straight away.

    One of our radiologists will interpret the scan and provide your referring doctor with a comprehensive report about the findings. The results of your scan will be sent directly to your referring doctor, and it is very important you book a timely follow-up appointment to discuss your results.

  • PATIENT SAFETY

    No X-rays or ionising radiation is used during an MRI. The magnetic field and radiofrequency waves have not been shown to cause any long-term effects.

    Patients with cardiac pacemakers, metal heart valves, some ear implants, certain brain aneurysm clips and various other medically implanted devices may not be able to have an MRI because the metal or electronics will respond to the strong magnetic field. We may require further information on certain devices to determine their compatibility in the MRI environment. Also, people with metallic foreign bodies in their eyes, through grinding or welding, may be excluded from MRI.  An X-ray of the eyes may be required to clear the eyes of any metal fragments.

Find out more about the services we offer in this area

Please note; not all services are listed below, and not all services are available at every site

Breast MRI

BREAST MRI
On average, 50 people will be diagnosed with breast cancer every day. Although the number of women and men being diagnosed is Australia is increasing, the number of deaths from breast cancer is decreasing. Breast MRI is an extremely sensitive, non-invasive, medical imaging examination used for detection of breast cancer and other breast abnormalities. It can also be used to examine the extent of breast cancer after a diagnosis has been made following a mammogram, ultrasound and/or biopsy.
The quality of images produced by MRI of breast tissue is outstanding.
MRI makes it easy to take additional images of the muscle and chest wall around your breast to provide a more comprehensive diagnosis.
Breast MRI can be beneficial in detecting breast cancer in high-risk women with a strong family history or a past history of breast cancer, or who are carrying a genetic predisposition to breast cancer.
For examining breast implants, mammography and ultrasound may not penetrate saline or silicone well enough to view the implants or surrounding breast tissue. In contrast, MRI may offer clearer images of both implants and breast tissue. This makes MRI an excellent imaging modality to assess breast implant integrity and detects small ruptures or leaks.

BEFORE A BREAST MRI
You will require a referral from your doctor prior to making an appointment for a breast MRI.
This exam is to be booked between days 6-16 of your menstrual cycle (if you still have cycles). Do not be concerned if you have an irregular cycle we will still make an appointment that best fits your current cycle.

On arrival to your appointment our MRI technologist will explain the examination in detail and check your contraindication questionnaire. Once this has been checked by the MRI technologist that you are safe to have a MRI scan, they will prepare you for the scan by inserting an IV cannula for the MRI contrast to be injected during this test. For most breast MRI scans, an injection of a gadolinium-based contrast solution into your arm vein will be required. This is to enhance the detail of the images produced. MRI scans to assess implant rupture will not require this injection.
You will also be changed into a patient gown prior to your scan.

DURING A BREAST MRI
The scans are taken as you lay on your stomach and your chest will move into the centre of the MRI scanner. It is very important that you remain perfectly still while the images are being acquired and breath gently to minimise any motion of the breasts.
After an initial series of scans, the contrast material will be injected through the IV cannula. It is normal to feel coolness and a flushing sensation for a minute or two when the contrast is been injected. Additional series of images will be taken during or following the injection.
It will take 30 to 45 minutes to complete an MRI of your breasts.

AFTER A BREAST MRI
There are no known risks from having a breast MRI. After the MRI examination you should be able to resume your normal activities immediately.
A radiologist specialised in breast imaging will interpret your MRI scans and provide a comprehensive report on the findings to your doctor.

Prostate MRI

Prostate MRI is a non-invasive medical imaging examination that can detect prostate cancer and provide information about other prostate concerns.

Prostate cancer causes over 3000 deaths in Australian men each year. This makes prostate cancer the fourth main cause of death in Australian males. The risk of prostate cancer increases with age and family history. By the age of 85, approximately 1 in 5 Australian males will be diagnosed with prostate cancer.

If both a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test and digital rectal examination return abnormal results, your doctor may request further tests or refer you to a specialist urologist for a diagnosis.

Until recently, prostate cancer was difficult to image and detect. MRI has emerged as the imaging technique of choice for detecting prostate cancer and provides important information for determining treatment options. MRI of soft tissue and organs (such as the prostate) are clearer and more detailed than other imaging methods. MRI enables early diagnosis of prostate cancer as well as an accurate evaluation of the tumour’s extent.

MRI can determine if the cancer is entirely inside the prostate gland or has spread to nearby or distant organs. For men with an intermediate or high probability of cancer spread outside the prostate, MRI improves the accuracy of information, allowing your doctor to determine a more appropriate treatment plan. MRI also provides important information to surgeons. Understanding the extent of cancer in your prostate helps your surgeon to preserve delicate arteries and nerves that are essential for sexual function and bladder control.

Furthermore, prostate MRI is used to evaluate other prostate problems such as infection or abscess, prostate enlargement, congenital abnormalities or complications after pelvic surgery.

BEFORE PROSTATE MRI

Before making your appointment, you will require a referral for a Prostate MRI from your Urology or Oncology specialist.  Please note that at South Coast Radiology we do not perform Prostate MRI prior to a consult with a specialist.

To achieve a successful MRI prostate scan, it is important that your bowel is empty for the procedure. You will be given 2 Durolax tablets to take the night before the procedure. These tablets should cause evacuation of your bowel early in the morning on the day of your procedure. We ask that you do not have an ejaculation for 48 hours prior to the scan. You must have nothing to eat, drink, smoke or chew for 6 hours prior to appointment.

On arrival to your appointment our MRI technologist will explain the examination in detail and check your contraindication questionnaire. Once this has been checked by the MRI technologist that you are safe to have a MRI scan, they will prepare you for the scan by inserting an IV cannula for the MRI contrast to be injected during this test.  You will also be changed into a patient gown.

An intramuscular injection of Buscopan or Glucagon will be administered 30 mins prior to the scan. The purpose of this medication is to relax the bowel to minimise motion which can interfere with the images.

DURING A PROSTATE MRI

During the MRI scan, you will be positioned on your back on the MRI bed and your pelvis will move into the centre of the MRI scanner.  It is very important that you remain perfectly still while the images are being acquired. If there is movement during the scan, the scan may not be of a diagnostic quality.

After an initial series of scans, the contrast material will be injected through the IV cannula. It is normal to feel coolness and a flushing sensation for a minute or two when the contrast is been injected. Additional series of images will be taken during or following the injection.

The scan will take approximately 30mins.  Please be aware you will be in the department for about 1 ½ hours.

AFTER A PROSTATE MRI

There are no known risks from having a Prostate MRI.   After the MRI examination you should be able to resume your normal activities immediately. A radiologist specialised in prostate imaging will interpret your MRI scans and provide a comprehensive report on the findings to your doctor. It is very important you book a timely follow-up appointment to discuss your results.

Make an appointment online or call our dedicated bookings line