MRI Frequently asked questions

Sound Radiology was awarded MRI Medicare Eligibility by the Hon Greg Hunt, Federal Health Minister in April 2019. Not all MRI machines are issued this licence to enable their practice to bill Medicare for a portion or full amount of your MRI scan. Please see below the list of Frequently Asked Question in relation to your MRI scan and billing arrangement.

What will I need to pay for my MRI?
Medicare has many rules around which radiology practices and machines are eligible to bill through Medicare. If your MRI study is one that is subsidised by Medicare, you will have NO OUT OF POCKET COST. There are certain criteria that are provided by Medicare to achieve a no-cost MRI such as:

  • You must have a valid Medicare card at the time of your MRI scan
  • The study your doctor has requested you have is on the subsidised Medicare list. (not all examinations are – please phone our staff to find out more)
  • Some examinations can be referred by a GP, while others need to be referred by a specialist, such as a Cardiologist, Orthopaedic doctor etc
  • That the clinical information your doctor provides for your MRI scan complies with specified Medicare criteria

What if my MRI scan is not covered by Medicare?
Firstly, our staff will check if your MRI scan and referral complies with Medicare rules. If it does not, then there will be an out-of-pocket cost to cover the cost of the examination. Our staff will provide this information at the time of your enquiry and booking.

What is an MRI?
MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging. As the name suggests, it uses magnetic fields and radiofrequencies to send and receive signals that generates an image from inside your body.

Does MRI use radiation?
Unlike X-Ray and CT (Computed Tomography) imaging, MRI does not use radiation. However, it does use strong magnetic fields, and for some people with electronic implants it can be potentially harmful. If you have certain types of metal or implanted devices inside of you, this can sometimes prevent you from having an MRI scan. Please contact Sound Radiology prior to your appointment if you are concerned about any implants.

What should I expect when having an MRI examination?
The MRI machine is an open tunnel. The area of the body that we are scanning always needs to be in the middle of the tunnel. You will hear loud noises while we are imaging you. Noise protection is essential for whomever is in the MRI room.

Will I fit in the MRI machine?
We have a wide-bore machine, meaning most patients can be scanned up to 250kg in weight. Depending on the area we are scanning will determine what area of the body will enter the machine. If you have any concerns, please call our friendly staff.

Why do I need to get changed for my examination?
Patients will be asked to change into a gown for their examination to ensure they have removed all metallic/electronic objects from their body. The machine is always on, therefore foreign magnetic objects that enter the scanning room have potential to cause harm

I have metal caps on my teeth, is an MRI safe for me?
In most cases, yes. Most dental metal, like amalgam, is a metal alloy and as such, is safe to be scanned on our MRI machine. The MRI staff do a comprehensive questionnaire and consent to ensure an MRI is a safe examination for you.

I am concerned about being claustrophobic.
At Sound Radiology, we are the only private provider in South Australia that has the audio-visual distraction technology. This means, that when you walk into our MRI room, it has a calming look and feel about it. Patients have the freedom to choose the music they listen to and some examinations have the option to watch our calming scenes or your own DVD. If you have any concerns, we encourage you to come in and see our MRI suite before your scan to put your mind at ease as to what to expect.

My child needs an MRI and I am nervous.
I would be too! However, we are here to help and have scanned children as young as 4 without the need for sedation. We work with you and your child. We strongly recommend doing a tour with your child so that they can see our MRI suite and meet our team. We will teach them a couple of tips and tricks to stay still as well as work out what they would like to watch for their examination. Favourites have been Toy Story, Sponge Bob, Star Wars and Nemo!!! And don’t worry, you can even stay in the MRI room with your child and hold their hand. This does require that you meet the MRI safety standards and that you have no metal on or in your body. We are here to work with you and your child.

How long will the MRI examination take?
The examination could be as short as 20 minutes up to approximately 50 minutes. This depends on which area of the body we are scanning and how still the patient keeps.

Why do I need to keep still while having an MRI scan?
This is because our pictures will come out blurry if there is any movement. If this happens, we may need to repeat scans which means the examination will take longer.

Can I contact you while I am having a scan?
Yes, we will give you a bell, if you need us you can squeeze the bell and we can then talk to you about any worries you may have. We can also see you through our glass window and video monitor, so you are never alone in the scan room.

Will I have an injection?
Very occasionally patients require a small needle and an injection of Buscopan or a dye (Gadovist) to enable the radiologist to see some extra information on the scans.

When will I know my results?
An MRI study is often made up of lots of mini-sequence scans. This gives a lot of information about your body in different areas and views. These images need to be collated and reviewed by our Specialist Radiologist. Depending on the nature of the examination, a formal report may not be available on the day of your scan. Our staff will certainly provide you with up-to-date information on when to expect your report will be available to your doctor.

Is an MRI Safe?
Generally speaking, yes, an MRI scan is safe as there are no known side effects to having a scan. However, some people may have implants from surgical procedures inside their body that make it unsafe for them to have a scan. If you are worried about an implant, please speak to our staff.

Will the MRI scan be painful?
No, you shouldn’t experience any pain caused by the scanning. In some circumstances patients may feel warmth around the area being scanned, but this should not cause any pain.

Why is the MRI so noisy?
The MRI machine is comprised of a big magnet with several coils around it, all hidden beneath the coverings. When an electrical current is passed through these coils to change the magnetic fields, the coils vibrate and cause sound. This noise is not harmful to you as you will be provided with hearing protection for your scan.

Why is there such a big concern about medical devices and metal in or on the body?
The MRI machine is a big magnet, and like your fridge magnets it can be attracted to certain types of materials. These attractive materials can often be metallic objects, and due to the size of the magnet it is very strong and can turn that object into a projectile. The magnetic field can also disrupt electronic devices and cards that have magnetic strips. Therefore, it is very important to tell staff if you have any devices implanted in or on your body prior to having a scan.

What preparation do I need to do before my MRI?
Most examinations do not require any preparation. However, if it is required, our friendly staff will inform you at time of booking.