It is shaped like a doughnut, with a hole in the middle, mostly closed on the other end. (Please know that “Closed MRIs”s is more powerful than an ‘Open MRI’.)

Check the magnet strength at the place where you will have your MRI examination, it is denoted by ‘T’ for Tesla. Today, a 1.5 – 3T MRI (closed MRI) is the most widely accepted MRI scanner that produces images of maximum clarity.

What will be the time taken: Average Duration: 7-20 minutes, unless sedation is needed.

Will I be exposed to radiation: An MRI has no ionizing radiation since it works on magnetic fields and radio waves!

An MRI scan, an ultrasound, and a CT scan have very different purposes, and help doctors get a clearer picture of different parts of the body, in different ways. For example, parts of the body that contain calcium (like bones), or air (like lungs), may not be clearly visible on an MRI or ultrasound scan, which is when a CT scan is recommended.

Further, in emergency cases, such as when a patient has suffered an injury to the head, a CT scan is preferable, since it is quicker than an MRI scan. In trauma cases, patients may not be in a position to be sedated, and may move during the scan. MRI scans are highly sensitive to movement, resulting in ‘motion artifacts’ in the scan, which can affect the diagnosis. On the other hand, CT scans are relatively less susceptible to motion artifacts.

Your doctor and radiologist will suggest the best scan option for you, based on your specific case. However, never hesitate to ask your doctor for options.

Claustrophobia (A fear of closed spaces): Since the MRI scanner is closed on one end; many patients suffer from claustrophobia during the scan. However, newer 3T MRI scanners with ambient experience reduce the incidence of claustrophobia by allowing patients to see movies during the scan and creating an illusion of more space and light.

What else could help?

Sometimes, anxiety stems from the unfamiliarity of the situation. To tackle this, try taking part in a rehearsal of sorts, where you will be comfortable with the process of getting into and out of the machine. Ask the medical staff to help you get familiarized with the machine, which will make it seem like less of a threat. You will need to follow all Covid protocols while you enter the premises, thus; respect the instructions you are told to follow.


Being in the company of friends or loved ones can greatly help reduce symptoms of claustrophobia. Having a loved one standing next to the patient and talking to them, it helps distract and calm the patient to a great extent. However, do remember that the companion will have to follow appropriate safety and Covid protocols too, such as removing all metallic items on their person and changing into a hospital gown.

Feet First

Positioning the patient is an important factor in halting the trigger of any claustrophobic attacks. Some scans do not require the head to enter the scanner, depending on the part of the body being scanned; and you could consult the radiologist on this matter. If the doctor agrees, then you could undergo the procedure without having your head enter the scanner, thereby minimizing your anxiety.

Cancelling Out Noise

Sometimes, the noises the machines make and the overall atmosphere at the diagnostic centre, with the machines beeping and the nurses and doctors going about their duties, can cause anxiety and claustrophobia to kick in. To reduce the ambient noise, we recommend you wear the ear plugs provided. Mentally distancing yourself from the noises can also help – to do this, focus on taking in deep, long breaths, or; thinking what you will be doing after the MR. You can also distract yourself by thinking about something that requires concentration – like the names of the last few movies or serials you saw.


If the above methods do not work and you still find the experience unbearably claustrophobic, you could explore sedation options with your doctor. Patients whose claustrophobia and anxiety threaten to culminate into panic attacks could be given short-acting sedatives. However, the timing of the sedative administration is crucial and patients must also be given sufficient time for recovery. While sedation may be necessary in certain cases, especially for small children, please note that this is not always the solution and caution is to be exercised with this method. Sedated patients need to be closely monitored before, during and after the MRI process.

Buit, I have a child having an MRI!;

It is always better to prep them in advance, ideally a few days before the procedure. Pleae explain what is going to happen – in simple terms; honesty is the best policy here be open and transparent about the procedure – but explain it in a way that your child can grasp the concept.

To explain what an MRI scanner is, you can liken it to a big camera that takes a picture of the insides of their body, using a powerful magnet (like the one on the fridge, but much bigger) and radio waves (like the sounds coming out of the radio).

Show them a picture of the machine and explain that they’ll have to lie very still inside, just like when their picture is taken with the camera, so that the machine can take a good picture.

Remember to reassure them on the pain-free aspect – an MRI scan doesn’t hurt at all, but there may be some loud sounds and whirring noises. However, the nurse will give them headphones or earplugs which should muffle the sound.

Answer questions as accurately as possible: Your child may be wondering how long the procedure will take or may ask how they will feel after the test. One way to reassure them is to call the doctor together and have all the doubts cleared. Depending on whether or not a sedative is administered, and whether the scan requires fasting, you can say that they will feel totally normal or that they may feel sleepy or hungry.

OK, I’m ready, what is the caution to be taken:

Since the MRI has a powerful magnet, NO METALLIC OBJECTS should be taken inside the MRI room. Also, never enter the MRI room without a staff member accompanying you – remember, the MRI magnet is always ON, it is never switched off.

Fasting requirements: No fasting required, even for scans with contrast

Contrast dye: If you’re advised to get a scan with contrast, a dye will be injected into your body. This dye helps highlight the internal structures of your body better, making a more accurate diagnosis possible. The dye is generally a gadolinium dye and is injected through an intravenous canulla inserted in the vein in your hand.

Why should I have a contrast dye, and what should I know?

A contrast agent helps highlight some internal structures of your body, allowing your doctor/radiologist to provide a more accurate diagnosis. It’s like holding a spotlight over certain problem areas in the body. If you’re getting a scan with contrast dye, you will be asked to fast for 3 hours prior to the procedure. The dye will be administered 45 minutes before the scan, either as a liquid that you need to consume, or as a liquid that is injected into your veins. Many patients worry about side effects from the contrast agent – however, complications are rare and can be taken care of easily. Some patients needing to take oral contrast may experience loose bowel movements for 24 hours post the scan, but this will stop once the contrast have passed away.

To keep in mind: Notify your doctor if you’re sensitive or allergic to certain medications, if you’re taking any medication for diabetes, if you’re suffering from kidney problems, or if you’ve faced issues with contrast dye in the past.

Metal implants or fragments

Having something metallic in your body doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t have an MRI scan, but it’s important for medical staff carrying out the scan to be aware of it. They can decide on a case-by-case basis if there are any risks, or if further measures need to be taken to ensure the scan is as safe as possible. For example, it may be possible to make a pacemaker or defibrillator MRI-safe, or to monitor your heart rhythm during the procedure.

You may need to have an X-ray if you’re unsure about any metal fragments in your body.

Examples of metal implants or fragments include:

a pacemaker– a small electrical device used to control an irregular heartbeat
an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD)– a similar device to a pacemaker that uses electrical shocks to regulate heartbeats
metal plates, wires, screws or rods– used during surgery for bone fractures
a nerve stimulator– an electrical implant used to treat long-term nerve pain
a cochlear implant– a device similar to a hearing aid that’s surgically implanted inside the ear
a drug pump implant– used to treat long-term pain by delivering painkilling medication directly to an area of the body, such as the lower back
brain aneurysm clips– small metal clips used to seal blood vessels in the brain that would otherwise be at risk of rupturing (bursting)
metallic fragmentsin or near your eyes or blood vessels (common in people who do welding or metalwork for a living)
prosthetic (artificial) metal heart valves
penile implants– used to treat erectile dysfunction (impotence)
eye implants– such as small metal clips used to hold the retina in place
anintrauterine device (IUD) – a contraceptive device made of plastic and copper that fits inside the womb
artificial joints– such as those used for a hip replacement or knee replacement
dental fillings and bridges
tubal ligation clips– used in female sterilisation
surgical clips or staples– used to close wounds after an operation

Some tattoo ink contains traces of metal, but most tattoos are safe in an MRI scanner. Tell the radiographer immediately if you feel any discomfort or heat in your tattoo during the scan.