Update to phone lines at our Birchmount and General Hospitals: If calling through Birchmount main line (416-495-2400), add “7” when dialing an extension. If calling through General main line (416-438-2911), add “8” when dialing an extension.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

Scarborough Health Network (SHN) is proud to offer three Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) suites – one located at each hospital. MR is an advanced imaging tool that uses both magnetic fields and radio waves to image the human body. MRI does not use ionizing radiation (x-rays)

MRI is especially useful in imaging the brain, spinal cord, musculoskeletal system, breast, abdomen, pelvis and other soft tissue areas. It is can also be used to evaluate many blood vessel disorders by using special imaging techniques known as magnetic resonance angiography (MRA). In many cases, MRI can provide high anatomical detail in imaging the body, and can detect a wide variety of diseases.

What We Offer

SHN uses MRI to provide the following high-quality services:

  • MRI of the brain and spinal cord – MRI is the most frequently used imaging test for the brain and spinal cord. It is often used to help diagnose aneurysms, inner ear issues, Multiple Sclerosis, stroke, tumors and spinal cord injuries
  • MRI of the blood vessels – An MRI can assess structural problems in the aorta, such as aneurysms or dissections, as well as inflammation or blockages in the blood vessels
  • MRI of other internal organs – An MRI may be used to look for tumors or other abnormalities of many organs, including the liver, kidneys, pancreas, uterus and ovaries
  • MRI of the heart – Cardiac MRI may be used to look at the structure and function of the heart, valves and major arteries and veins.
  • MRI of the Musculoskeletal System – MRI may be used to help evaluate joint disorders repetitive injuries, disk abnormalities in the spine, bone infections and soft tissue concerns
  • MRI of the Breasts – An MRI may be used in addition to mammography to detect breast cancer, particularly in women who have dense breast tissue or who may be at high risk of disease

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Please inform us prior to your appointment if you are pregnant, as we may need to further assess whether or not to perform your MRI.

Sometimes abnormalities can be difficult to see on an MRI image. An injection of Gadolinium may help to better visualize internal body structures. Gadolinium is considered very safe and side effects are extremely rare. If you have any concerns, please feel free to discuss them with us at any time.

Some patients may experience claustrophobia or anxiety within the MRI scanner. If you require sedation, your physician must give you a prescription prior to your appointment date. You must bring someone with you if you plan on taking sedation, as you cannot drive until the sedation has completely worn off.

What to expect

If you require sedation (due to claustrophobia or other reasons) your physician must give you a prescription that you fill prior to your appointment date. You should not take the sedative prior to meeting with the Technologist in the MRI Department registering with the MRI Department. You must bring someone with you if you plan on taking sedative medication. If you do not come with a support person your MRI may be re-booked.

If you have ever sustained an eye injury with a metallic foreign body, call the MRI department immediately. You may need orbital x-rays done before your MRI exam to ensure there is no metal remaining in your eyes.

**If you are on regular medication, you may take it with a small sip of water.

**If you have a known allergy to MRI contrast (dye), please inform your physician.

Abdominal MRI (i.e. liver, pancreas, kidneys, adrenal glands)

  • Nothing to eat or drink 4 hours prior to examination

MR Enterography

  • Contact MRI department if you have not received instructions from your physician
  • The entire procedure will take up to 3 hours to complete and requires an oral contrast medium

Pelvic MRI

  • Nothing to eat or drink 4 hours prior to your appointment,

Breast MRI

  • Nothing to eat or drink 2 hours prior to your appointment

Cardiac MRI ** Centenary Hospital Only

  • Nothing to eat or drink 2 hours prior to your appointment

Paediatric Patients Requiring Sedation

  • Nothing to eat or drink 2 hours prior to your appointment


  • No preparation necessary
  • The entire procedure will take up to 3 hours to complete

All Other MRI Examinations

  • No preparation necessary

We will do our best to accommodate appointments at the hospital closest to your home or work, however, factors such as body part being examined, scan type, body weight and body habitus may determine which site your appointment will be scheduled.

You will be asked to change out of all your street clothes and will be provided with hospital pants and gown.

A technologist will help to position you on the MRI scan table, then move the table into the scanner so that the body part being examined is in the centre of the scanner. The inside of the scanner is well lit and open on each end. A technologist monitors you during your scan and is in contact with you using an intercom system The MRI makes a loud knocking noise while obtaining images; you will be given ear plugs and/or ear phones to wear during the exam.

Your test may require an intravenous (IV) contrast medium (Gadolinium) to enhance images of organs and blood vessels within the body. The gadolinium will be injected through an intravenous (IV) line into a vein in your hand or arm.

The exam takes anywhere from 10 minutes to one hour depending on the area being imaged.

MRI Safety

The presence of metal in your body may be a safety risk or can affect the quality of the images; our staff will take extra precautions to ensure you don’t have any safety risks.

You must tell us if you have ever:

  • Had an injury to your eye with metal
  • Had any surgery; and/or
  • Had any implanted medical devices.

Please note: Paediatric patients requiring sedation, a Child Life Specialist will provide you instructions prior to your appointment.

Contact Us

DI Central Booking Line

416- 431-8167
Fax: 416-431-8141