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MRI stands for “magnetic resonance imaging”. It is a state-of-the-art imaging method that makes very clear images of the human body without using x-rays. Whereas x-rays take an image of dense structures like bones, the MRI scanner takes images of soft tissues in joints (e.g. shoulders, wrists, knees). An MRI scanner is a large doughnut-shaped machine that uses a large magnet, radio waves and a computer to make accurate cross-sectional images, or “slices”, of a body part.

During an MRI scan, you will hear tapping and knocking noises. These noises are made by magnetic coils that are quickly switching on and off as they read the signal coming from your body.

The powerful magnetic field of the MRI scanner attracts iron-containing objects, which may cause them to move suddenly and fly through the air toward the centre of the magnet. This means that you will need to remove any metal objects (e.g. watches, barrettes, earrings). The MRI department follows strict safety procedures to ensure there are no potentially dangerous objects in the MRI scan room.

The MRI scanner does not use radiation, has no known side effects or risks and is considered safe for both children and adults.

What can I expect during the exam?

A magnetic resonance technologist performs the MRI scan. During the scan, you will lie on a table that is attached to the MRI scanner. You will be properly positioned and the appropriate camera placed on the body part being imaged. Because the scanner is noisy, the technologist will give you ear plugs.

Throughout the exam, between scans, the technologist may talk to you and let you know how long each scan will be. Depending on what type of scan you are having, the technologist may give you instructions when to hold your breath and when to breathe.

A contrast agent called Gadolinium is sometimes used to make your tissues and blood vessels show up more clearly in a MRI image. Gadolinium is a clear, colourless fluid that is injected with a small needle into a vein in your arm or hand. It produces few side effects, though you may get a metallic taste in your mouth. Gadolinium is excreted by the kidneys through your urine usually within 24 hours. It is quite safe; however, as with all medications, there is a slight risk of an allergic reaction. The doctors and staff in the MRI department are trained to respond to any emergency situation that may develop.

After the exam, a report will be sent to your doctor. Your doctor will then provide you with this information.

What if I’m claustrophobic?

The space you lie in is well lit and well ventilated. The scanner is open at both ends. An emergency “call bell” will be given to you in case there is an emergency during the scan, such as chest pain, shortness of breath or nausea. If you are claustrophobic, you can choose to be sedated just before the exam. If you require sedation, you must bring someone with you who will drive you home following the exam.

How will a MRI scan affect metal or implants inside my body ?

The magnetic field of the MRI scan may move or dislodge metallic objects or implants in your body, which could cause harm. You will fill out a safety check list before your MRI scan to make sure you will not be put in danger. The safety check list will ask you about surgery you have had, if you have had any metal splinters in your eyes, and about any implants you have. The technologist will review the check list with you to make sure it is safe for you to get the scan.

You cannot have a MRI exam if you have a pacemaker. The magnetic field of the MRI scanner may damage a pacemaker or cause it to malfunction.


Please confirm your appointment by calling the MRI appointment confirmation line at 204-235-3608 one week before the appointment date. You will be asked to leave your name, telephone number, and the appointment date and time. You can also cancel or reschedule your MRI appointment by calling the same number. You will be asked to leave your name, telephone number and appointment date. We will contact your referring doctor who will in turn notify you of the new appointment date.

MRI will not call you back unless there is a discrepancy in the information you provided.

Tests and Procedures

Your doctor may give you information and preparation instructions for you to follow.

Location, Hours and Contact Information

Dr. Andrei Sakharov MRI Centre (on the Hospital campus)
Located south of the main hospital, between the Research Centre & the McEwen Building. There are limited parking spaces in front of the building; if none are available, please use the south parking lot.

Appointments available seven days a week (including statutory holidays) from 7:00 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Telephone: 204-235-3600 | Fax: 204-233-2777