Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

An MRI scan uses a powerful magnetic field, radio frequency pulses and a computer to produce detailed images of any part of the body.

The MRI examination will be carried out by a radiographer, a specialist healthcare worker trained to perform scans. Sometimes, a radiologist (a specialist doctor trained to review images) or a cardiologist (doctors who specialise in diseases and defects of the heart and blood vessels) will also be present. 

MRI results are used to help diagnose conditions, plan treatments and to see how effective previous treatment has been.

Currently we have three MRI scanners. Two '1.5 Tesla' scanners are located in the main hospital building within Medical Imaging. We have a visiting scanner, operated by Alliance medical staff, who work closely with our department.

We have also recently installed a '3 Tesla' MRI scanner, in partnership with the University of Exeter, to scan research and clinical patients at the RD&E in the Mireille Gillings Neuro Imaging Centre.

Contact us

We can be contacted via the main hospital switchboard on 01392 411611

To contact the Medical Imaging Team, call 01392 402 336

The team is available Monday to Friday, 9am to 4pm

Alternatively, you can email us at:

More about us

MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging. The MRI scanner is a large cylinder-shaped tube which is open at both ends. Images are produced by using a large magnet and radio waves. A computer then processes the signals and generates a series of images of the scanned area.

You should not feel any discomfort during an MRI scan. It is a non-invasive procedure and does not use X-rays.

The strong magnets used during the scan can potentially affect any metal implants or fragments in your body. Before your appointment, please contact us to let us know if you have any implanted devices. Some implants are contraindicated for MRI or we may need to make a special arrangement. If you have a pacemaker, any cardiac implant or repair, a gastric band, a cerebral aneurysm clip, inner ear implant, diabetic monitor, muscular and neuro-stimulator or any other electronic device or vascular stent please let us know. 

If you have a history of metallic fragments in your eye, please contact us for further instructions prior to your scan.

On arrival, all patients have to complete a MRI safety checklist to ensure that it is safe to go ahead with the scan. 

For some procedures, the patient will be asked to change into a gown. Please avoid bringing valuables. If you have to, they can be locked away until after the examination.

When all the checks are complete, the radiographer will take you into the MRI scanning room and you will be asked to lie down on the MRI table.

The radiographer will then move the table into the scanner. The area that we have been asked to look at will be in the centre of the machine. It is important to lie very still for the scan so that the pictures are not blurred.

The machine is very noisy so earplugs and/or ear defenders are provided. Music can be played from either a CD or the radio. You will be given an alarm to hold which can be activated should you wish to attract the attention of the radiographer, who can talk to you via a two-way intercom.

MRI examinations consist of a series of sequences, each of which can last for several minutes. An MRI scan can take from 10 minutes to up to one hour to complete.

The patient is usually alone in the scanning room. Some patients might find that they are claustrophobic and are unable to complete the examination. The radiographers will do everything that they can to put you at ease. If we are unable to complete the procedure, it might be possible for the scan to be re-booked with sedation.

For some examinations, an injection of Gadolinium (contrast dye) might be given. For some abdominal or gynaecological procedures, it might be necessary to use a drug called Buscopan. Before giving you an injection, the radiographers will ask you some additional questions to make sure it is safe to do so.

If your scan is booked with a contrast injection and you are pregnant or breast feeding, please contact us before attending the appointment.

If you have any mobility issues, please inform the MRI booking team so that we can ensure this is taken into account when selecting the best scanner for your appointment.

Where to find us

Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital (Wonford)
Barrack Road

The Medical Imaging Department, Template M, Level 1

Mobile MRI Vans located in the Child & Women’s Health Car Park. Your letter will specify if this is the case with details on how to get there. If you have mobility issues and are booked here please let us know.


Exeter Nightingale CDC
Moor Lane

If you have mobility issues and are booked here please let us know.

For further information follow see the community medical imaging page and the Exeter Nightingale CDC page.

Patient information leaflets

Click here to see our patient information leaflets.

Children and young people

Our team is very experienced at scanning children and young people. A parent can stay in the room, as long as they have been successfully screened for safety.

Very young babies can usually tolerate the scan after a feed.

Other children might require a general anaesthetic. There are three or four of these sessions per month.

If you have any questions, please contact your referring doctor or us.

A video on what to expect when coming into hospital for an MRI scan is available for children to watch.

MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scanning for children from Royal Devon NHS on Vimeo.

Requesting copies of your scans

If you would like copies of your images on disc, please download and complete a Data Protection Act form. Please visit the 'Accessing your Medical Records' page for more information.

Once the signed form is returned to the department, we will process your request - this can take up to 30 days. There is no charge for this service.

Last updated: February 07, 2024


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