FAQ – Screening MRI

If you are considering an screening MRI, you might have some questions. Below are a few of the more common ones. If you have any others, or would like more information, please email or call us.

What is the difference between a screening MRI and a diagnostic MRI ?

A screening MRI is broad general overview. It is designed to screen for conditions (such as aneurysms and cancer) which may not have any symptoms in early disease. Diagnostic MRI is designed to look at a specific body part or body part area and is much more detailed in its scope. Screening MRI alone may help to identify a potential problem but may not fully characterize that problem and thus may lead to a need for a diagnostic MRI.

Priority MRI has 2 types of screening MRI: a whole body version and a body part screening version.

Do I need a referral ?

Yes. A screening MRI requires a referral just like a diagnostic MRI.

Who is screening MRI suited best for ?

Screening MRI is recommended only if you do not have any symptoms and want a peace of mind general overview. If you have symptoms, you should see your doctor for further assessment. Your doctor can then decide on the best and most suitable test for you.

What can a screening MRI detect ? What can be missed ?

A screening MRI is tailored to try and detect cancerous growths in the brain, spine, gallbladder, liver, kidneys, adrenal glands, pancreas, uterus and ovaries for example. It can detect aneurysms in the brain and abdomen. It can also help identify conditions such as osteoporotic spine fractures and fatty liver. As with any medical test, these screening scans have limitations. Not all potential conditions of these organs can be assessed. Additionally, some body parts, although they may be included in the scan, are not well evaluated (including the lungs, large bowel (colon), and prostate gland). Whole body screening should be looked upon as a general overview, not a focussed test. All tests have limitations and screening MRI is no different. It is important to realize that screening MRI is not an exhaustive test.

Findings may require further evaluation with a more dedicated diagnostic MRI or other imaging tests (such as an x-ray, ultrasound or CT scan). We can help arrange this through your doctor.

All findings should be discussed with your doctor.

Is there a written report ? Can Priority MRI release the report to the your doctor? Are the images given to me ?

Yes, you will receive a written report and all patients are advised to take this to their doctor for review.
The report can be released to the your doctor. Our policy is to send a copy of the report to your doctor unless you expressly state not to.
As with all of our MRIs, you will receive a CD with your scan images on it.

How long is your waitlist ?

There is NO WAITLIST ! Most exams can be performed within a couple of days.

How much does it cost ?

The fees for our exams are listed here. As we are a private facility, they are not covered by Medical Services Plan or other provincial health plans. We accept credit card payments directly or by third party insurer (ex. lawyer, other insurer, employer).

Is it safe ?

Yes. An MRI uses magnets and radiowaves to generate very detailed images of your body. It does not emit any potentially harmful radiation such as x-rays. There are some factors which may affect whether you would be suitable to have an MRI. Priority MRI works closely with your health-team in screening you for factors which may prevent you from having this type of scan. The factors include things like a pacemaker or metal fragments in your eye (from grinding or welding). These factors need to be considered in everyone, even if this is not near the body part being scanned. Almost all modern orthopedic hardware and an increasing number of implantable devices are MRI safe. Call us with any questions.

What should I do to prepare ?

You may be given instruction about eating and drinking before your scan. Unless you are told otherwise, take your medications as usual. Wear comfortable clothing. Leave jewellery and other metallic objects such as watches at home if possible. You will be given a locker to store any objects such as keys and electronics that you bring to the clinic. If you think that anxiety or clautrophobia may be an issue for you, talk to you health-team about the possibility of using a mild sedative for the scan. In this case, you may not be able to drive to and from your appointment. Our friendly staff will answer any other questions you may have and guide you through the process of getting your scan done successfully.

What can I expect ?

The MRI scan itself is painless. The technologist will position you properly on the table. A small coil will be placed around the body part of interest. During the scan, the MRI scanner makes a knocking and buzzing sound which can be loud, but you will be given headphones to listen to music of your liking. You will also be in constant two-way contact with the technologist. The most important part is to relax! This allows you to lie still and allows us to get great pictures. The length of the exam varies depending on the number of body parts and the type of exam. For the whole body screening this is approximately 90 minutes. For the body part screening It is generally between 10 and 30 minutes.

Its done, now what ?

Once your scan is complete, it will be processed by the technologist and interpreted by the radiologist, who will issue a written report. You will be provided a CD of your scan. The report for the scan will generally be available with 2-3 business days, but quicker if you require.