Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

Scarborough Health Network (SHN) is proud to offer three Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) suites – one located at each hospital. MRI is a non-invasive way for your doctor to examine most parts of your body, and it is the gold standard for locating tumors and diagnosing diseases or injuries in soft tissues. MR Angiography is also performed to examine blood vessels.

Using MRI, clinical staff can better diagnose a patient’s health problem, which leads to an opportunity for more specialized treatment plans.

What We Offer

SHN uses MRI to provide the following high-quality services:

  • MRI of the brain and spinal cord – MRI is the most frequently used imaging test for the brain and spinal cord. It is often used to help diagnose aneurysms, inner ear issues, Multiple Sclerosis, stroke,  tumors and spinal cord injuries
  • MRI of the blood vessels – An MRI can assess structural problems in the aorta, such as aneurysms or dissections, as well as inflammation or blockages in the blood vessels
  • MRI of other internal organs –An MRI may be used to look for tumors or other abnormalities of many organs, including the liver, kidneys, pancreas, uterus and ovaries
  • MRI of the Musculoskeletal System – MRI may be used to help evaluate joint disorders repetitive injuries, disk abnormalities in the spine, bone infections and soft tissue concerns
  • MRI of the Breasts – An MRI may be used in addition to mammography to detect breast cancer, particularly in women who have dense breast tissue or who may be at high risk of disease

What you Need to Know

MRI Frequently Asked Questions

  • Before you schedule an MRI, tell your doctor if you think your might be pregnant or if you are breastfeeding. Your doctor may recommend choosing an alternative exam or postponing the MRI. It is also important to discuss any kidney or liver problems with your doctor and the technologist, because concerns with these organs may change the way the test is conducted.
  • For abdominal scans, do not eat after 12 midnight before the day of the examination. For pelvic scans, do not eat or drink four hours prior to examination.
  • Bring all previous films done outside our facility
  • If you have ever done any metal work, such as welding, grinding or cutting, or have had an injury to your eye involving metal, please contact the MRI department as you will be required to have orbit (eye) X-rays prior to your examination
  • If you require sedation because of claustrophobia please contact your referring physician and bring your medication with you on the day of your examination. You will also be unable to drive yourself home so please ensure someone accompanies you
  • Remove all body piercings
  • Refer to the back of your requisition or ask your physician if there are any other specific preparations required for your procedure

The MRI machine looks like a large tube with both ends open, and you will be asked to lie down on a table that moves through the machine. A technologist monitors you from another room, and is in contact with you using an intercom system. The MRI creates a strong magnetic field around you, and radio waves are directed at your body. The procedure is painless, and you will not feel the magnetic field or radio waves. There are no moving parts around you. During the test, the internal part of the magnet makes knocking, thumping and other noises. Earplugs or earmuffs are provided to help block the noise. If you are worried about feeling claustrophobic inside the machine, talk to your doctor ahead of time. You may require a sedative before the scan. You must hold very still because movement can blur the resulting images.

In some cases, a contrast solution, typically gadolinium may be injected through an intravenous (IV) line into a vein in your hand or arm. The contrast material enhances the appearance of certain details. The solution used for MRIs is less likely to cause an allergic reaction than the one used for CT scans.

Be aware that an MRI test will take thirty minutes to one hour or more, so please plan your transportation or other appointments accordingly.

If you have not been sedated, you may resume your usual activities immediately after the scan.

The images are analyzed by a radiologist who has received specialized training in interpreting MRI scans. The results are provided to your physician who will then share them with you and discuss any important findings and next steps.

When you lie inside an MRI machine, the magnetic field temporarily realigns hydrogen atoms in your body. Radio waves cause these aligned atoms to produce very faint signals, which are used to create cross-sectional MRI images. Although there are no X-ray, gamma or beta radiation concerns associated with MRI procedures, the powerful magnetic field that exists within and surrounding the MRI machine requires specific safety precautions.

The presence of metal in your body may be a safety risk or can affect a portion of the image. Before receiving an MRI, tell the technologist if you have any metal or electronic devices in your body, such as a pacemaker, artificial heart valves, implantable heart defibrillator, heart defibrillator, metal clips, metallic joint prostheses, cochlear implants, piercings, bullets, shrapnel or any other type of metal fragment.

Where to Find Us

Birchmount hospital
Main Floor
Monday to Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 12 a.m.
Saturday and Sunday from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Centenary hospital
Margaret Birch Wing, 1st Floor
416-284-8131 ext. 3114

General hospital
Crockford Wing, Basement
416-438-2911, ext. 6170
Monday to Friday from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday from 7 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.