MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a non-invasive medical imaging test that uses a strong magnetic field, radio waves, and a specialized computer to produce detailed images of internal soft tissue structures of the human body.


The procedure does not use ionizing radiation and is considered to be safe; however, metallic implanted devices within the patient's body may be affected by the magnetic field.

Information for your arrival

Please arrive 30 minutes before your appointment to complete the registration and screening process. Please bring your Health Card to your appointment.

If you are having an MRI to examine your small bowel, please arrive 2 hours before, in order to have the oral contrast.

What to expect during your exam

After you’ve been checked in for your MRI, you can expect the following:

MRI staff will verify your identification and the exam requested. You will be given an MRI screening form to fill out. The MRI staff will go over this form with you.

You will be asked to change into a hospital gown and place your clothes and belongings in a locker. Leave valuables at home, including jewelry, to prevent them from being lost. None can be worn during the scan.

If you wear hearing aids, you will be asked to remove them before entering the MRI scan room and should inform the technologist when you have done so. The magnetic field generated by the MRI can cause damage to hearing aids.

Some MRI exams include use of injected contrast agent to highlight features in an image and help radiologists diagnose medical conditions. If an injected MRI contrast agent (gadolinium) is needed for your imaging, an IV catheter will be inserted in a vein in your arm by a nurse or technologist.

You will be required to lie completely still during the MRI exam. Depending on the body part being imaged, you may be instructed to hold your breath.

The magnet tube is open on both ends. The enclosure is well lit and there is a fan for comfort. You can communicate with the technologist through an intercom system during the exam when images are not being acquired. The part of the body being scanned will be positioned in the middle of the machine.

You will hear loud intermittent noises during your scan. You will have been given ear plugs or headphones to decrease the noise. If you have trouble keeping these in place, please tell the technologist.

You will also have an alarm button to alert the technologist to any significant discomfort you may feel at any point during the exam.
If you are receiving an injected MRI contrast agent, tell the technologist if you feel any discomfort from the IV during the exam.
After the exam

MRI staff will bring you back to your locker and you can change back into your clothes.
If an injected contrast agent was used, the IV will be removed from your arm before you go home.
If you took medication to prevent claustrophobia or were given anesthesia, you must have someone else drive you home.

Allergic reactions to contrast materials are extremely rare – but if you notice any symptoms such as rash, hives or shortness of breath before you leave the facility, notify the technologist or radiology staff immediately. Or call your doctor or go to the nearest hospital if you have already left to go home.

Day of your exam

On the day of your MRI scan, you should be able to eat, drink and take any medication as usual, unless you are advised otherwise.

In some cases, you may be asked not to eat or drink anything for up to 4 hours before the scan.

If you wear a medication patch or glucose monitoring patch it will need to be removed at the time of your exam for your safety. Before your exam, talk to your physician about removing and discarding your patch. Your physician can advise you about replacing your patch after the scan.

If you suffer from claustrophobia, please speak with your physician before your appointment. Only your physician can prescribe you a sedative as they are not offered in our department.

Length of appointment 

Plan on at least 1-1.5 hours for your MRI exam from check-in to checkout. If your doctor has ordered multiple exams, your appointment will take longer.

Sometimes we encounter unexpected delays, due to emergencies or appointments that take longer than anticipated. We do everything we can to keep things running smoothly and on time, and we will give you the time you need for a thorough exam.

We recommend leaving extra time between your MRI exam and other appointments.

Getting your results

Your images will be read by a radiologist. These results will be sent to the referring physician on the referral. These results also are available on MyHealth.


General Information on MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)

Referral Required?
How to get a Referral

A referral from a physician is required for an MRI.

You will be contacted by our Medical Imaging Booking Team for your appointment time and instructions, either by mail or by phone call. Please note appointments are booked by urgency.

Preparing for Your Visit

Medical devices and implants that contain metal may malfunction or be a hazard during an MRI.

Please advise your referring physician if you have any of the following: 

  • cardiac pacemaker/defibrillator 
  • neurostimulator
  • cerebral aneurysm clip
  • cochlear implant
  • penile implant
  • a foreign metal body in your eyes
  • pregnancy 
  • serious allergies
  • impaired renal function

Patients with any of these implants/conditions listed above might have a delay in booking their appointment. This is to ensure your safety before proceeding with your scan.

Contact Us

If you need to reschedule your exam please call using one of the phone numbers listed below:

Victoria:  250-727-4508 
Duncan: 250-709-3000 ext. 42035
Nanaimo: 250-755-7628 option 4
Port Alberni: 250-731-1370 ext. 53007
Comox Valley: 250-331-5900 ext. 65472
Campbell River: 250-286-7100 ext. 67473

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