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What is MRI?

MR (magnetic resonance) scanning uses a magnet and some radio waves in order to get pictures.  It gives much better soft-tissue detail than X-Rays or even CT scanning, and is the investigation of choice for most head, spine and joint (musculoskeletal) problems.

The quality of images that MRI scanners produce vary due to the strength of their magnets which are measured in units known as Teslas (T).
What is the difference between a 1.5T MRI scan and a 3T MRI scan?
Most people can understand the different quality of photo images that can be produced from the camera on their smartphone, etc, which are measured in “pixels”.
The same principle can be applied to MRI scanners, where the images are measured in Teslas, so the higher the “Tesla”, the higher the image quality.
Our MRI scanners range from 0.35T- which is low resolution signal and field strength, to 3T which is regarded as the gold standard for certain diagnostic investigations.

The main advantage of a 3T scanner over a 1.5T scanner, is the higher strength of the magnetic field, which gives a higher resolution signal return from the person who is undergoing the scan, resulting in a better image quality for part of the anatomy being scanned.

3T scanning may take longer and our 1.5T scanner is particularly open, fast and often more suitable for claustrophobic and bariatric patients.

As the image quality of an MRI depends on signal and field strength, having a higher signal strength allows a 3T MRI to offer a superior image quality.

MRI offers a safe scanning option as no radiation is used.

The scanner of choice for any individual patient will depend upon the clinical investigation being carried out.
It is the
Consultant Radiologist who has the final decision based on their clinical opinion.

Because MR scanning does not use X-Rays or radiation it is a safe procedure with no side-effects and shows detail and gives diagnoses which in many cases cannot be obtained by other imaging methods.
Please note that exceptions may apply, and there may be some cases where there are contraindications and safety constraints- such as pregnancy, having a fitted pacemaker etc. Please refer to the section on 
MRI FAQ’sfor more information.

We have a 1.5T scanner which is much wider and shorter than traditional scanners and again many claustrophobic patients find that they can have scans done without difficulty.  Because the magnet is stronger, the pictures are more detailed, and 1.5T is the present standard magnet strength which is used across the country. Scans usually take approximately fifteen minutes to complete, for a single area.

Our newest MR scanner is the first of its type in the country.  It has a 3T magnet, which is the current highest magnet strength and gives particularly good pictures for head, spine and major joint imaging, but also has applications for general imaging such as the abdomen and pelvis.  In addition to the normal range of scans we are also able to offer screening examinations for prostate, which is recommended to be done at 3T, but also whole-body screening.  Further information can be obtained by clicking the button below.

Head scan-  Prostate scan – Pelvic/Gynaecology –
MR Lumbar spine-  Musculoskeletal.

3T MRI Scanning