Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a type of medical imaging that uses radio waves and a strong magnetic field to provide detailed images of the body. It’s often used to help diagnose diseases of the brain, spine, skeleton, abdomen, and soft tissues.
Mayfair Diagnostics has been performing private pay MRIs in Calgary since 1999 at our Mayfair Place location. In Saskatchewan, we have been offering MRI services in Regina since 2015 and in Saskatoon since 2020. We offer MRIs in Saskatchewan as publicly funded, community-based services under contract with the Saskatchewan Health Authority and as private pay exams. Private MRI services in Saskatchewan are provided in accordance with and under the legislation of the Province of Saskatchewan.
Whether public or private, an MRI must be requested by a health care practitioner. To determine whether it’s appropriate for you, your doctor will often review your medical and family history, risk factors, how long symptoms have been present, and how they affect daily activities.
If a private MRI is indicated as a best next course of action, your doctor will provide you with a requisition and preparation instructions for your exam. You will then be able to book the appointment. In the case of a public MRI in Saskatchewan, your health care practitioner will forward your name and we will contact you to arrange an appointment.
By exposing hydrogen atoms within our body to a magnetic field, MRI can control the direction and frequency at which hydrogen protons spin. A radio frequency (RF) pulse specific to the “resonance” of hydrogen is directed toward the area of the body we want to examine, while smaller magnets are turned off and on rapidly, in a specific way, to alter the magnetic field on a small, but localized level.
A computer interprets the signals from the RF waves as mathematical data, which it then converts into a picture. This allows the system to target a specific area for imaging. Images can be taken of any part of the body with incredible detail, providing doctors with scans of the tissue from a variety of angles and directions.
Sometimes an MRI scan involves an injectable contrast, or dye, that alters the local magnetic field in the tissue being examined. Normal and abnormal tissue respond differently to this slight alteration, allowing doctors to visualize different types of tissue abnormalities.
The spinning atom effect was first observed during the late 1930s, but medical applications were not discovered until the 1970s. MRI was first used for clinical purposes in the 1980s and over 60 million MRIs are performed annually around the world.
The MRI machine is a large magnet, so it’s important to make sure that you are properly screened for internal metal objects and changed prior to your exam. Please note that a private change room is provided as well as a locker to lock up personal items, which must be kept outside of the exam room.
Depending on the type of exam, you may need an intravenous (IV) injection of contrast solution. You will be positioned by one of our compassionate and experienced technologists, and a sensor is placed around the body part being scanned. The scanner table then moves slowly into the scanner. You will be asked to hold very still, as movement may result in blurring of images.
An MRI can be noisy, so you will be given headphones to block some of the noise. The scanner is well lit and well ventilated, and patients can remain in contact with the technologist during the exam through an emergency call button. The exam usually takes between 25-30 minutes.
Once the technologist has confirmed that the necessary number of images have been taken, your IV will be removed (if you have one) and you will be free to leave. You will be given a copy of your images and they will also be examined by a sub-specialized radiologist who will interpret them and forward a report to your referring physician. If there are any concerns with your results, they will be phoned or faxed to your referring physician immediately. For non-urgent results, your doctor will receive a detailed report, which will outline your diagnosis and make recommendations for treatment options, usually by the next business day following your exam.
Mayfair Diagnostics is owned and operated by over 60 radiologists who are fellowship-trained in all radiology subspecialties, such as neuroradiology, body, cardiac, and musculoskeletal imaging, etc. This allows for an expert review of your imaging by the applicably trained radiologist.
Your images will be uploaded to a provincial picture archiving and communication system (PACS) – this technology provides electronic storage and convenient access to your medical images from multiple sources, such as your doctor, specialists, hospitals, and walk-in clinics.
Your doctor will review your images and the report from the radiologist and discuss next steps with you, such as a treatment plan or the need for further diagnostic imaging or lab tests to ensure an accurate diagnosis.
For more information about Mayfair Diagnostics’ MRI services, please visit our web page, or drop by our clinics.
Tretkoff, E. (2006) “This Month in Physics History – July, 1977: MRI Uses Fundamental Physics for Clinical Diagnosis.” American Physical Society News. www.aps.org. Accessed May 2, 2019.