MRI Scanner

The Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre has one MRI scanner, situated on Level 0. The hospital also has access to a scanner at Gartnavel General Hospital.

Your appointment will be made on the scanner with the shortest waiting time and available specialist X-ray Doctor (Radiologist) who will read the scan.

On the day of your appointment, please ensure you arrive in plenty of time. The scan will take between 20 minutes and over an hour. If you arrive late you may have to wait until after someone else has had their scan and this could be for a long time.

What is an MRI scanner?

An MRI scanner is a short, wide tube, which uses a strong magnet, radio waves and an advanced computer, operated by a Radiographer to produce clear pictures of your body. 


How long will it take?

The scan can take from 20 minutes to over an hour.

You should expect to be in the department for up to 1 hour for one scan. If you are having more than 1 body parts scanned, this may take longer.

Before your appointment

You should receive an appointment letter through the post. However, if your Consultant asks for the scan to be done within a week you may receive a telephone call with appointment information.

Please read the information that comes with your appointment carefully. This will be on the reverse side of your appointment details. Ensure you take note of which hospital your scan will take place.

Occasionally you may be given fasting instructions. If these are not present then eat, drink and take any medication as usual. If fasting, continue to take medication but with small sips of water only.

We are unable to arrange hospital transport. If you need transport you should contact your Consultant at the Beatson or their secretary.

What you should wear

Please wear cotton underwear. You may also wish to bring a tracksuit (without zips or metal fibres) or pyjamas to change into.

Some clothing contains metallic fibres such as exercise, stretch and spandex clothing. They may not be suitable to wear in an MRI Scanner and staff may ask you to change into more suitable clothing or a hospital gown.

When you arrive for your scan

Please report to the MR Reception and take a seat in the Waiting Area if no receptionist is present.

Your appointment will be 10-20 minutes before your scan to give us time to get you ready.

Safety checklist

You will be asked to complete a safety checklist to make sure it is safe for you to go into a strong magnetic field. If you have difficulty reading or understanding any of the questions, a member of staff will help you. Once you have completed this form, the Radiographer (person who takes the images) or assistant will ask your name, date of birth and address and will check all your details are correct.

If there is a problem with any of the questions the Radiographer may have to telephone another department, check records or organise an x-ray to ensure it is safe for you to have your scan. If you have any questions regarding any surgery you may have had, it is better to phone ahead so the Radiographers can obtain any additional information before your appointment.

What happens next?

You will be given a full explanation of the scan including how long it will take, your position on the table, breathing instructions and details of any injections. You will then be asked to sign the checklist.

Depending on the area to be scanned, you may be shown into a cubicle and asked to change into either a hospital gown or theatre scrubs. You can wear clothing without zips or bring a tracksuit (without zips) or pyjamas to change into if you wish.

You will be asked to remove your watch, keys, coins, credit cards and jewellery etc. You may prefer to leave these objects at home but a locker will be provided for you. You will not be allowed to take anything magnetic or metal into the scan room with you. Please do not wear mascara or eyeliner and do not use hairspray.

You may also be given an injection prior to the scan. If so the plastic tube (cannula) is usually left in place until the scan is complete.

The Radiographer or assistant will probably check once more that no magnetic objects are on your person before you are taken into the scan room.

Setting up for the scan

You will be asked to lie on a padded table, which can feel quite hard and you may have to lie quite flat on your back. The Radiographer will try to get you as comfortable as possible. You may have your head on a pillow or it may be in a special rest.

Usually a ‘coil’ (piece of equipment that gives us the images) is placed around or lightly on top of the body part to be scanned. If you have a plastic tube in place for an injection, you may have this connected to a special injector in the scanning room.

You will be given a buzzer to hold on to in case you wish to stop the scan at any time. The scanner is noisy, so you may be given some headphones or earplugs to protect your ears. You will then be moved on the table until the bit we are looking at is in the middle of the scanner.

If we are looking at an area between your tummy and feet we can move you into the scanner feet-first. If we are scanning above your tummy you may have to go into the scanner head-first.

The Radiographer will make sure you are OK in the scanner before leaving the room to set up the scans.

During the scan

The scanner makes a lot of noise (sometimes a bit like a pneumatic drill and other times like a lorry reversing). It is important that you lie as still as possible, especially when this noise is on.

The Radiographer will speak to you between the noisy bits and make sure you are OK before telling you how long the next bit of noise will take.

The Radiographer can see you throughout the examination but may not always be able to hear you. If you wish to stop the scan or speak to the Radiographer, you can press the buzzer provided.

You will normally be given music to listen to. However, if you are having your tummy area scanned, there may be some breathing instructions and this may not be possible.

You may be asked to breathe in or breathe out and to hold your breath. Sometimes this varies but the Radiographer will advise you of this before your scan.

If you are given a contrast agent or 'dye'

You may be given an injection of a contrast agent or ‘dye’ during the scan. The Radiographer may come into the room to give the contrast agent or it may be given by a special injector in the scan room. This depends on the examination you are having.

The contrast agent shows up in the blood supply and can give the Radiologist more information from the examination. The Radiologist is an expert in reading the MRI scans and will decide if an injection is needed in your case.

You will be able to drive/work as usual after the injection.

After the scan

The Radiographer or assistant will remove the table from the magnet and make sure you are OK.

They will remove any plastic tube and all the bits of equipment around you. You may feel dizzy when you sit up. This is usually because you have been lying so flat. You will then be shown into the changing cubicle and allowed to change and leave the department.

You will not usually need to speak to anyone before you leave.

The Radiologist will look at the scans and the results will then be sent to your Consultant in the Beatson.

If you suffer from claustrophobia

If you suffer from severe claustrophobia you may wish to speak to a Radiographer or visit the department before your appointment to discuss your concerns. You should call the number on your letter to arrange this.

Some people choose to visit their GP before their scan. The GP may prescribe a mild sedative to help with anxiety.

Important information

Due to the strong magnetic field, not everyone is suitable for an MRI scan. If you have or have had any of the following, please telephone 0141 347 8379 as soon as possible:

  • Cardiac Pacemaker
  • Aneurysm Clip
  • Artificial Heart Valve
  • Ear (cochlear) implant
  • Skin patches including glucose monitors that will have to be removed for the scan
  • Metal fragments in eyes, head or body or any procedure to remove metal
  • Metallic Implant
  • Please also phone if you are pregnant or breast-feeding at time of appointment.

Useful Links

This site uses cookies to store information on your computer. I'm fine with this Cookie information