MRI of the Spine includes cervical spine (neck) and lumbar spine (lower back).

When you arrive for your examination, you will be asked to fill out a safety questionnaire.

For the MRI, you will lie in the scanner on a special coil covering the area of your spine being imaged, which needs to be in the centre of the magnet.

  • For a cervical spine (neck), you will enter the MRI scanner head-first.
  • For a lumbar spine, you will enter the scanner feet-first, and depending upon how tall you are, your head may be out of or near the entrance of the magnet.

During the scan, you will need to be as still as possible. If you experience claustrophobia (fear of small places), please discuss this with us before your scan. If sedation (medication to relax you) is required, you will need to arrange for someone to drive you home.

MRI scanners make a loud knocking sound while the images are developed. To reduce the impact of the noise, you will be offered headphones or earplugs. You will also be offered a buzzer to press if you want to talk to the technologist at any time during the scan.

On some occasions, a contrast dye (Gadolinium) may be required. If so, the technologist will explain the process. The contrast dye will be given through a small needle (intravenous cannula) that will be placed in your arm.

Risks / Side Effects

As part of the MRI examination, you may need to have an injection of a contrast agent (dye) known as Gadolinium. This medication is administered intravenously (injection into vein) through a needle. Overall MRI contrast injection is a safe procedure. Occasionally patients feel a little nauseous but this only lasts momentarily. More serious allergic type reactions, although possible, are extremely rare. The staff in the MRI department are fully trained to deal with such a reaction should it occur.

Before your Scan

Because MRI uses large and strong magnets to create images, it is important that jewellery such as watches, chains, earrings and other metallic items such as eye-glasses are removed before the scan. You may also be asked to change into an examination gown for your safety and to make sure your clothing does not affect the images and diagnostic quality of the scan.


A single region MRI spine takes 20-25 mins.

Are you ready to make your MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) appointment?

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