Frequently Asked Questions
We hope that all visitors to the Chenies Mews Imaging Centre will feel confident and informed ahead of a scan. We’ve answered some commonly asked questions below, but if you are unsure about anything at all, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
What is Cardiac Magnetic Resonance Imaging?
Also known as Cardiac MRI, Cardiac Magnetic Resonance Imaging (CMR) is a safe, non-invasive technique used to assess the structure of the heart and how well it’s functioning. It provides high quality static and moving images of the heart, revealing important details that other tests simply cannot.
One of the greatest benefits of Cardiac MRI, is the ability to accurately target therapies, including angioplasty, bypass graft surgery, implantable defibrillators and bi-ventricular pacing.
Is MRI Safe?
There are no known side effects associated with having an MRI scan, and it does not use any ionising radiation (such as X-Rays). We always have to be cautious about the magnetic field and some patients who have certain metallic objects in their body are not suitable for MRI scanning. We use a detailed safety checklist to assess whether you are safe to have a scan of this kind.
Occasionally, we use an injection of contrast dye during an MRI scan which enhances the appearance of certain tissues and can add to the quality of the scan in specific circumstances. This injection is regarded as being very safe, although we will always check to make sure that there is no reason why this injection would be unsafe for a patient to have if necessary. The radiographer will explain this injection to you in more detail if it is necessary for your scan.
We do not scan female patients who are within the first trimester of pregnancy.
When is Cardiac MRI vital?
MRI can be used to assess how much blood is flowing to the heart muscle, to determine whether the muscle is alive or irreversibly scarred (also known as myocardial viability). The heart muscle will be categorised into one of three categories:
- Alive and functioning normally
- Alive but functionally impaired (viable but hibernating)
- Irreversibly scarred
These categories are visualised to a level of detail up to 10 times that of other imaging techniques.
Following a heart attack
Following a heart attack, it is important that we examine the heart muscle to identify any damage. In order to do this, stress (or perfusion) CMR will be performed. This is when the heart is put under stress with medication to discover whether it’s damaged but still alive. If so, it can be made to work normally if the blood supply is restored. Where there is a large amount of viable myocardium, patients can often be helped with bypass surgery. On the other hand, if the damaged heart muscle is mostly scar, a bypass operation will not help. In severe cases a transplant may be necessary.
Stress CMR can also be used for the assessment of patients with chest pain at low or medium risk of coronary disease. Many of these patients would currently undergo treadmill exercise testing, which is often an inconclusive investigation and is followed either by nuclear imaging or by a coronary angiogram.
Following heart failure
CMR is a key test for the aetiology of heart failure. It is the most reproducible way of measuring cardiac size and function. In many heart failure services, CMR is now considered essential. Novel and increasing roles for CMR in heart failure, include the assessment of dyscynchrony and cardiac iron quantification.
Cardiomyopathies and heart failure
CMR is the best technique to evaluate cardiomyopathy. It allows highly reproducible assessments of ventricular size, function, mass and wall thickness. It is also possible to differentiate ischaemic from dilated cardiomyopathy. CMR may be used to track the development and recovery of acute myocarditis, to speed up the patient journey and allow for a more specific diagnosis. In many cases, diagnosis could have been made on a single examination, rather than multiple studies, as is the current norm.
This inherited blood disorder requires patients to undergo transfusions, which can cause iatrogenic cardiac iron overload. Despite being treatable and reversible if adequate intensive iron chelation therapy is started swiftly, approximately 50% of patients with thalassemia major die before reaching 35 years of age. CMR can detect high iron levels so that treatment can begin before the symptoms of heart failure occur.
How do I prepare for my scan?
There is very little you need to do to prepare for an MRI scan with us. You can eat and drink normally before your appointment and you can take any medications you would normally take as normal.
If we need you to bring anything specific with you for your appointment we will let you know.
However, as a general rule, it is always useful if you could:
- Wear comfortable clothing with minimal attached metal (zips etc.) We may need you to change for your scan in which case we will provide you with a gown
- Avoid wearing eye makeup, especially if you are having your brain or eyes scanned.
- Avoid bringing any jewellery with you that you would not be happy to remove and leave in a locked room.
Bring any previous scans that you might have copies of to your scan appointment. It is always useful if we can see old scans as these can be used for comparison.
How do I make an appointment for an MRI Scan?
We can only scan a patient who has been referred for an MRI by their doctor. This can be a general practitioner (GP) but usually, we would prefer to take referrals from a specialist doctor. If you have been told you need to have an MRI scan, then you can contact the Chenies Mews Imaging Centre directly to arrange a time that is convenient for you. Our administration staff will provide you with all of the information you need in order to arrive prepared for your scan.
How much will my appointment cost?
The cost of an MRI scan varies, depending on the area of the body we are scanning, the type of scanning we are doing and whether we need to use any contrast dyes or medicines during the scan. If you are self-funding, then we will provide you with as accurate a quote as possible at the time of booking.
Can I use my health insurance?
Yes. We are recognised by all major UK based insurers. We would always recommend that you contact your health insurer prior to making an appointment to ensure that the cost of your appointment will be covered. Insurance provider contact details can be found in the ‘How to Pay’ section of this website. When you attend your appointment, please bring your insurance details including the authorisation number with you so that we can liaise with your insurer on your behalf.
How long will my scan take?
MRI scans can vary in duration a great deal, depending on what we need to scan and how much details we need to obtain. We will be able to advise you how long you will be in the department at the time of booking, and the radiographer will always keep you updated during your scan.
Can I bring someone in with me?
You are welcome to bring a friend of relative with you to your appointment. If necessary, you may have someone accompany you into the scanning room, although this is always at the discretion of the radiographer. Anyone going into the room with a patient must successfully complete the safety checklist for themselves and will be asked to remove all metallic objects from their person.
I am nervous about my MRI scan. Can I have sedation?
If you are nervous about your MRI scan for any reason, we would advise you to contact the imaging centre in the first instance so that we can discuss your concerns over the phone and try to ease your worries. We are always happy to discuss your appointment and answer any questions you may have. We never rush patients and we always take our time with each patient to make sure you are as comfortable as possible during your scan.
If you feel that you do need sedation for your scan to help you relax, then you can ask your doctor for a prescription for a light oral sedative. The patient must organise this themselves and the Chenies Mews Imaging Centre neither stocks sedation, nor does it provide prescriptions. If you do obtain sedation, we would ask you to arrive in the department at least 30 minutes prior to your appointment time, and take your tablet whilst here in the department. You should organise for someone to escort you home after your scan and you must not drive yourself.
Can you organise an interpreter for me?
If you require an interpreter to be present for your scan, you are advised to discuss your requirements with the private secretary of the consultant you are seeing. It is preferable to arrange an independent interpreter where possible so that your discussion with our staff is interpreted in a professional, and impartial manner. We are able to assist in arranging an interpreter if you require help. Please contact us to discuss your requirements.
Do you have disabled access?
The Chenies Mews Imaging Centre is fully wheelchair accessible and our facilities are all at ground level.
Do you have a cancellation policy?
Owing to the high level of demand for appointments, we would ask that any cancellations are made at least 24 hours prior to the appointment. We may still charge for appointments which are not cancelled with prior warning.
How do I find the Chenies Mews Imaging Centre?
The Chenies Mews Imaging Centre is located at 69-75 Chenies Mews, London, WC1E 6HX. We are close to Warren Street and Goodge Street Underground Stations (Northern Line) and close to the many major bus routes. For a map and further directions, please see the contact details section of this website.
Can I park nearby?
There are a limited number of metered parking bays in local streets but patients are advised to park in local public car parks where possible. We have negotiated discounted parking for our visitors at the nearby CitiPark on Clipstone Street (W1W 5DG) , and the NCP car park at Berners Street (W1T 3NE), both a short walk away from Chenies Mews. Please contact us prior to your appointment if you would like to make use of discounted parking at either facility.