Southern Medical Clinic - Trinidad & Tobago – MRI

MRI scans

Southern Medical Clinic offers MRI scanning as part of its range of diagnostic services. With one of the most modern MRI scanners in the in the Caribbean (Siemens wide bore) we are able to obtain superb quality images to assist in diagnosis and enable your doctor to commence the most appropriate treatment.

Our scanner is 'open', which avoids the claustrophobic sensation as in most conventional units.

The experience of having an MRI scan is sometimes viewed as a daunting prospect by patients, but our highly-experienced staff are experts at making the experience as easy as possible for you. If this will be your first experience of MRI, you probably have many questions about the procedure. We have attempted to answer some of them here, but we cannot be comprehensive.

MRI - What is it?

Magnetic Resonance Imaging is a method of obtaining pictures of the human body, using a strong magnet and a radio transmitter. It avoids the risk from radiation associated with x-rays, which are traditionally used for looking at the bony parts of the body. MRI allows the non-bony parts to be seen with astonishing clarity, from any angle. The uses of MRI are gradually increasing, and it is routinely used to visualise the brain, spinal cord, joints and some blood vessels.

On Arrival

When you arrive for your scan, you will be asked to complete an important safety questionnaire to ensure that you will be safe inside the powerful magnet.

Precautions

An MRI requires the patient to lie still to complete the exam. Infants, small children, claustrophobic patients and/or those with severe pain or physical limitations may require sedation to adequately have an MRI exam.
Not everyone is suitable to have an MRI examination - for example, if you have had a heart-pacemaker fitted.
Please call our hospital department if you have a condition that might prevent a MRI exam.

Contraindications to MRI scanning

The following devices are absolutely contraindicated for MR imaging because they are magnetically, electrically, mechanically activated or affected:

  • Pacemakers
  • Neurostimulators
  • Cochlear implants
  • Bone Growth stimulators
  • Implant able drug-infusion pumps
  • Implant able cardiac defibrillators
  • Implant able pediatric sternum device
  • Metallic foreign body in the eye
  • The following are relative contraindications for MR imaging:

  • Intra-cranial vascular clips – Titanium clips are MR safe, but not stainless steel
  • Penile implants
  • Shrapnel depending on location
  • Halo vests
  • Coronary stents within 6 weeks of implantation
  • Pregnancy – 1st trimester not advised
  • We recommend that you try to arrive a few minutes before your appointment time. If you have any questions regarding the information above, please contact our department and speak with our technologist prior to your scheduled exam.

    If you arrive with young children, you must bring someone with you to keep an eye on them while you are having your scan. Unfortunately, it is not possible for us to be responsible for their safety and welfare.

    Adults and Older Children

  • Remove or leave jewelry and / or metal objects at home. Remove keys and watches before your examination. Strong magnetic fields can erase the information on credit cards. Gold wedding rings are non-magnetic and may be worn.
  • If possible, remove eye make up, wigs, hairpieces, hair extensions and hairpins. Materials in these products can interfere with accurate interpretation of your images. Dressing rooms are available on site.
  • Bring your recent x-ray, CT or MRI scans.
  • Bring your health insurance information, physician referral and any necessary forms.
  • Check in 20 minutes before your scheduled appointment time to register for your MRI exam and complete screening forms.
  • Patients Requiring Sedation

    If your doctor has prescribed oral sedation or IV sedation:

  • Arrive at the MRI reception desk 20 minutes before your scheduled appointment to register for your MRI exam and take your prescribed medication.
  • Plan at least 45 – 60 additional minutes to complete the exam.
  • Plan to rest for the remainder of the day. Do not drive, operate machinery or make important (legal) decisions for 24 hours following the use of sedative medication.
  • Do not eat or drink anything from the hour of midnight before your exam.
  • IV sedation requires an empty stomach
  • What to expect during the Scan

    A radiographer will explain what is involved, and emphasize the need for you to remain as still as possible. Your MRI scan will take place in a specially designed room. You will be helped to lie down on a padded table. The body part to be studied is positioned in the center of the magnetic field. A typical examination takes around 20-30 minutes and, while the pictures are obtained, the machine makes a humming similar to the sounds heard at a construction site! You will be offered either earplugs or headphones to protect your ears, and you may bring along a favourite CD to listen to whilst you are in the scanner.

    Some MRI examinations require the use of intravenous (IV) contrast to enhance the results of your study. This injection, performed by a radiologist, is placed in a vein in your hand or arm. Contrast reactions/allergies to the MRI contrast agent, Gadolinium, are extremely rare. You may be asked to change into a gown before your examination to avoid possible magnetic interference from buckles, snaps, zippers, earrings or silk screening. Motion can distort images, so you will be asked to lie still for periods of 5 to 15 minutes while being scanned. Total examination times vary from 30 minutes to 1 hour or more depending, on the information needed.

    After the Scan

    We're afraid that our MRI staff may not be able to give you the results as they have to be reviewed by the Radiologist. The pictures obtained are looked at by a Consultant Radiologist who is an expert at interpreting the scans. The report and images should be ready within 24 hours for collection.