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MRI considerations

Checked: 23-11-2022 by 3 Vicky Ryan Next Review: 23-11-2023

Indications for MRI

Requests for MRI should be considered against local and national guidelines and either a no image or alternative imaging request should be considered if appropriate. Please therefore consider the following guidelines before requesting MRI scan:

Requests can be made on ICE with clinical details outlining the reason for the referrral. If there is insufficent information, or MRI is not felt to be appropriate then a request may be returned by the radiology department.

Claustrophobia and MRI

Most people will suffer from a level of discomfort when having an MRI of the head, chest or torso but this can usually be managed through support, and perhaps even episodic prescribing of drugs to calm the patient.  

Local trusts now have newer wide bore scanners which are much more patient friendly than older scanners. Patients who are more anxious can bring a companion who can stay in the room with them. The radiology departments also have a music system and patients can listen to a CD of their choice. Radiographers will always try to help and encourage each individual at their appointment but will show empathy when a patient feels they cannot proceed with a scan.


Mild sedation can be prescribed by the doctor requesting the scan in advance. Please note that radiology departments are not able to prescribe as they are not in possession of the medical notes including medication history.

Open MRI Scanner

Generally the failure rate is low but there will always be some patients who cannot cope with an MRI and the option is then to consider an open scanner as below: Please note that the resolution and quality of images taken by open scanners is not as good as with closed scanners.

For patients suffering from severe unmanageable claustrophobia where a scan of the head (see limitations below) or upper body is required, the following services are now available for patients (Criteria Based Access Policy applies) who can be referred directly to:

Each link contains details of how to refer your patient to the provider if the criteria are met. State “BNSSG ICB” where asked for invoice information.

Please note that whilst each provider is outside the BNSSG ICB area, the ICB are unable to reimburse accommodation or travel costs for patients. Patients on qualifying benefits may be able to access support from the Healthcare Travel Costs Scheme – more details available here -

Patients who qualify for Patient Transport Services should contact the booking line as normal.

Patients requiring MRIs of the lower limb can normally access local services.

Please seen link to the Criteria Based Access policy which still applies and has been updated to include the new providers:

Open MRI Scanner Criteria Based Access Policy

Obesity and MRI

North Bristol Trust and South Bristol Community Hospital (UHB) both have an MRI scanner that will accommodate patients with a weight up to 250kg and therefore it is unlikely that patients with obesity will need to travel out of area to undertake this test.

If a patient is over 250kg and requires an MRI, please contact the Exceptional Funding Team for advice.

Exceptional Funding Request Team Email Address:

Exceptional Funding Request Team Phone Number:  0117 900 2244


Patient information about MRI

Efforts are made to ensure the accuracy and agreement of these guidelines, including any content uploaded, referred to or linked to from the system. However, BNSSG ICB cannot guarantee this. This guidance does not override the individual responsibility of healthcare professionals to make decisions appropriate to the circumstances of the individual patient, in consultation with the patient and/or guardian or carer, in accordance with the mental capacity act, and informed by the summary of product characteristics of any drugs they are considering. Practitioners are required to perform their duties in accordance with the law and their regulators and nothing in this guidance should be interpreted in a way that would be inconsistent with compliance with those duties.

Information provided through Remedy is continually updated so please be aware any printed copies may quickly become out of date.