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Our Services

High-Field (3T) Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

In late 2014 San Radiology installed two new wide bore MRI machines (GE MR750w). These state-of-the-art, new generation MRI machines coupled with San Radiology’s recognised medical and technical expertise places us at the forefront of MRI service provision in Sydney.

San Radiology utilises 3.0 Tesla strength MRI systems that result in high resolution, high quality imaging of the body structures.

San Radiology offers a comprehensive range of MRI examinations, predominantly referred from the following Medical Specialties:

  • Neurosciences (Neurology and Neurosurgery)
  • Orthopaedics
  • Sports Medicine
  • Vascular Surgery
  • Urology
  • General Surgery
  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology
  • ENT
  • Oncology
  • Paediatrics
  • Psychiatry

More specialised MRI examinations are also available at San Radiology including:

  • Breast MRI (with Computer Assisted Diagnosis (CAD)
  • Cardiac MRI (with ECG gating)
  • High resolution, Dynamic Abdominal imaging
  • High resolution, Dynamic Pelvic imaging
  • High resolution, Dynamic Prostate Imaging - See our Patient Information Sheet 

When making your appointment for your MRI examination our staff will ask you a series of safety questions to determine whether it is safe for you to have an MRI. It is important you inform our staff of any device, implant or metal objects in your body when asked the safety questions. This is because a small number of devices and implants are not compatible with MRI scanning. When you present to San Radiology on the day of your scan you will be required to confirm or complete a safety questionnaire which is used as a screening tool by our staff to ensure your safety prior to entering the MRI room.


Centre of Excellence in Prostate Imaging

San Radiology is officially recognised as a Centre of Excellence for Prostate MRI Imaging, working collaboratively with the Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre in the Netherlands. San Radiology is the first Imaging Provider in New South Wales to be awarded this status through international collaboration.

Professor Jelle Barentsz, a world-renowned expert in prostate MRI, is working with the San Radiology team to deliver a world-class prostate MRI service to our patients. This service includes the option to have prostate MRI examinations double read by our Netherlands-based colleagues to assist diagnosis and management decisions.

San Radiology has a dedicated and experienced team of Radiologists which is involved in reporting all Prostate MRI examinations as well as an experienced team of MRI Radiographers who have undertaken extensive training in MRI specific to the prostate.

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Further Information

Please contact San Radiology on (02) 9487 9850 if you have any questions or queries. Alternatively you can email us at radiologycustomerliaison@sah.org.au.


Frequently Asked Questions

What is MRI?

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) uses a strong magnetic force and radio-frequency pulses to collect signals from the body. These signals are then converted by computers into a series of images that are interpreted by Radiologists. MRI allows doctors to look at the soft tissues of the body and is different from other Medical Imaging examinations such as X-ray or CT because it does not expose you to any radiation.

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Is MRI safe?

For the majority of patients MRI is safe and painless examination. Extensive research over a number of decades has been unable to identify any significant harmful effects attributable to MRI technology.

Unlike other medical imaging examinations, MRI will not expose you to any radiation.

Are there any contraindications for an MRI scan?

If you have a cardiac pacemaker or implanted cardiac defibrillator, it is usually not safe for you to undergo an MRI scan. In addition, some patients with cerebral aneurysm clips, infusion pumps, neuro-stimulators and cochlear implants cannot be scanned.

All devices/implants have to be accurately identified prior to your scan in order to ensure your safety before having an MRI scan.

How do I know whether I am safe for an MRI?

Your safety is of paramount importance to San Radiology so we work with you to ensure your safety before entering the MRI magnet room.

You will be required to complete a safety questionnaire prior to your MRI. Our MRI team will also verbally confirm your answers with you prior to your scan.

Any implanted devices are required to be identified. Devices such as vascular aneurysm clips, cochlear implants, neuro-stimulators, vascular pumps, gastric bands, penile implants, cardiac valves and annuloplasty rings and large vascular stents will need to be specifically identified (manufacturer, model name or number), preferably in writing from the responsible surgeon or by an identifying implant card (often given to patients at the time of insertion).

Most metal implanted at surgery (e.g. hip or knee replacements, metal rods and screws, sternal wires etc.) is safe to scan 6 weeks post-surgery.

Most modern coronary stents may also be safe to scan, however, it is usually advised that patients wait at least eight (8) weeks following surgery before having an MRI procedure.

If you have ever had any significant metallic foreign body in your eyes and have not had it removed by a doctor, you will probably need to have a precaution X-ray of your eyes prior to your MRI scan. Likewise if you have had any significant shrapnel or bullets in your body, it might be necessary to have it localised prior to your MRI appointment. Please discuss this with you doctor to ensure you have X-rays performed before your MRI appointment.

Can I have an MRI if I am pregnant?

If you are known to be pregnant, or could be pregnant, at the time of making your appointment then please inform us so that we can discuss this with your referring doctor prior to your scan.

MRI has traditionally been avoided in the first trimester of pregnancy (0-12 weeks) unless your diagnosis cannot wait and your doctor considers MRI to be the investigation of choice. This practice is only a precaution given there is no information/data at this stage suggesting that MRI poses any danger to the unborn foetus. In fact, MRI is often preferentially chosen as a means of imaging the foetus if clinically indicated.

Will I fit on the San Radiology MRI?

Nearly all MRI systems have limitations to the size of patients they can scan. This is due to the technology and physics used. At San Radiology our MRI machines are considered wide and short bore which means many patients who cannot be scanned on long bore or narrow MRI machines can indeed have their examination performed.

If you have concerns about whether you will fit on our MRI please discuss with your doctor (who may enquire on your behalf) or with our bookings staff directly at the time of making your appointment.

How long do I need to wait for an appointment for an MRI?

As we have two (2) MRI machines with Medicare-eligibility the waiting times are very short. Usually, an MRI examination can be booked within days of your enquiry or same day if considered clinically urgent by your doctor.

How do I Prepare for my MRI?

In most cases there is no special preparation required for an MRI examination, which means you can eat and drink normally (no fasting required). There are some abdominal MRI scans however that will require fasting, which will be explained at the time of making your appointment.

It is preferable that you wear minimal jewelry and remove any body piercings prior to presenting for your scan (as appropriate) due to safety concerns.

It is recommended that you do not wear eye make-up or hairspray if you are having a scan of the head / brain.

For safety reasons you will be asked to change into a hospital gown, which is known to be free of any small items of metal, prior to entering the MRI magnet room.

Please bring any previous relevant imaging examinations with you on the day of your examination to assist our Radiologists with your MRI report.

What if I am or think I may be claustrophobic or suffer from anxiety?

This is the most common concern patients have about MRI scans and there is no need to be embarrassed about it.

The San Radiology MRI’s are the new generation wide and short bore magnets with heavily flared open ends that make the environment far more comfortable and acceptable for anxious patients (many patients comment that it looks more like a CT scanner).

The fast MRI sequence times result in short examination times. This in itself makes our MRI’s more tolerable for claustrophobic patients. Our MRI team is well known for their skills in allaying the fear and concerns claustrophobic patients have. We have been consistently successful at being able to complete scans for anxious patients, ensuring that all patients are well informed and in control of their scan at all times.

However, if you have previously experienced problems with MRI scans and are concerned about claustrophobia, then it is recommended you discuss your concerns with your doctor who may prescribe a gentle sedative to take prior to your MRI scan.

If you do require medication then you must also arrange for another person to attend the appointment with you so they can drive you home after the examination, as you will not be permitted to do so.

Should I continue to take my pain medication?

Please continue taking your usual pain medication. If you can time your dose such that its “peak action” corresponds to your appointment time then this will help you keep still during the scan.

All other medications should be taken as normally prescribed.

What happens during an MRI scan?

Each MRI scan can be quite different. Each part of the body requires the use of different pieces of equipment to obtain the appropriate MRI images. The MRI team will set up the examination table in advance and explain the procedure to you prior to starting your scan.

MRI technology can be quite loud; dependent upon the scan being performed you will be offered one of a number of forms of hearing protection. Some form of hearing protection must be worn. Our MRI scanners do have a silent-scan (no noise) function, which can be applied for some scans.

In most instances, you will just need to lie comfortably on you back whilst the MRI scan is performed. Constant communication, both verbal and visual, is maintained with you throughout the scan to ensure that you are comfortable and remain informed about the progress of your examination. If at any time you become uncomfortable, a handheld buzzer enables you to alert our MRI team that you need to speak to them. The length of time for each examination can vary but our MRI team will give you an indication of the estimated time of your examination before the scan starts.

Will I require an injection?

Most MRI tests do not require a contrast injection; however, in certain circumstances it may be required to provide further information during your scan. The decision to administer a Gadolinium injection is usually made by the Radiologist supervising your examination. If required, the injection is usually administered via a very small cannula into a vein in your arm/hand. It is not the same as the iodine-based IV contrast used in X-ray or CT examinations.

Prior to some MRI examinations you will be asked to complete a Contrast Safety Questionnaire. This assists with the information you and the MRI team require in the event that it is decided your examination indicates a gadolinium contrast injection.

Who should NOT get the Gadolinium Injection?

A Gadolinium injection is usually NOT given to patients who have seriously compromised renal (kidney) function, are on renal dialysis or are pregnant.

Women who are breastfeeding can be given a gadolinium injection, however, are asked to refrain from breastfeeding for 24-hours following the injection. This will be discussed (as necessary) and planned accordingly when you present for your appointment.

When will I get my MRI results?

MRI examinations contain specialised and complex information displayed as a large number of images. These images can take considerable time to review, particularly where previous examinations are made available for comparison.

Usually your MRI report will be made available to your referring doctor the next business day following your examination. In most cases, you will be able to take your MRI images with you once your examination is completed.

Is the MRI scan covered by Medicare?

San Radiology has two Medicare-eligible MRI machines – one will full licensing and the other partial licensing.

If your MRI is referred by a Specialist then there is a high chance that it will be Medicare-eligible, however, not all examinations / body areas are currently eligible. Please ask our bookings team at the time of making your appointment.

Some MRI examinations referred by a General Practitioner are also Medicare-eligible at San Radiology. Please ask our bookings team at the time of making your appointment.

How much will my MRI cost?

There will be no out-of-pocket expense for Pensioners or Concession Card holders that are referred for a Medicare-eligible MRI examination. If you do not fall into this category and:

  • You are an outpatient, then you will be charged a private fee. If your examination is Medicare-eligible you will be able to claim most of this fee back from Medicare. An out-of-pocket (gap) payment will apply; or
  • You are a private inpatient, then you will be charged a private fee. If your examination is Medicare-eligible you will be able to claim part of the fee back from Medicare and part of the fee from your Private Health Fund. An out-of-pocket (gap) payment will apply.

Our bookings team will provide you with an estimate of any out-of-pocket expense at the time of making your appointment.

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