Frequently
Asked Questions

Frequently asked questions about our MRI scanning services in Calgary and the surrounding areas. 

MRI

  • Why Choose EFW ?

    EFW Radiologists are imaging specialists, each with a dedicated focus and extra training related to a particular body part or system. This is often called fellowship training and can range from one to three years above and beyond the training to be a Radiologist.  These subspecialties include Neuroradiology, Abdominal, Pelvic and Chest Imaging, Breast Imaging, Musculoskeletal Imaging, and Vascular Imaging.  

    Patients can be confident that they will have the right EFW Radiologist planning and reading their MRI.  Our technologists will treat you with care ensuring that you feel comfortable and informed during your exam, while making sure the best possible quality exam is obtained.  

  • What is the MRI examination like?

    The MRI examination is performed in a special room to safely manage the magnetic field. You will be escorted into the room by a staff member and asked to lie down on a padded table that positions you within the scanner.

    During the MRI examination, you may be required to wear earplugs or headphones to protect your hearing because, as MRI scanners operate, they produce loud noises. These sounds are normal and are not cause for concern.

    The most important thing for the patient to do is to relax and lie still. Most MRI exams take between 15 to 45 minutes to complete depending on the body part imaged and how many images are needed, although some may take up to 60-minutes or longer. You’ll be told ahead of time just how long your scan is expected to take.

    For some MRI studies, a contrast agent may need to be injected into a vein or joint to ensure all needed information is obtained of the region being examined. For joint exams contrast will be injected in a separate procedure room prior to the MRI exam. Otherwise, this is typically done through a small needle connected to an intravenous line that is placed in your arm or in a hand vein. Unlike contrast agents used in x-ray studies, MRI contrast agents do not contain iodine and rarely cause allergic reactions or other problems.

    You will be asked to remain still during the time the imaging takes place, but between sequences some minor movement may be allowed. The MRI Technologist will advise you, accordingly.

    When the MRI procedure begins, you may breathe normally, however, for certain examinations it may be necessary for you to hold your breath for a short period of time.

    During your MRI examination, the technologist will be able to speak to you, hear you, and observe you at all times. 

  • How do I prepare for an MRI exam?

    Most MRI exams require no special preparation. You can eat, drink and take medications as usual.  Some exams will require special preparations that will be fully explained to you at the time you arrange your exam. 

    You won’t be allowed to wear anything metallic during the MRI examination, so it would be best to leave watches, jewelry or anything made from metal at home. Even some cosmetics contain small amounts of metals, so it is best to not wear make-up.

  • How do I arrange an MRI?

    After obtaining a requisition from your physician, you can call our MRI booking team at 403-244-3700 or request an appointment here.

    Our dedicated MRI staff will help by asking you screening questions, ensure you are provided information regarding the appointment and any preparation for your exam. You are welcome to ask questions of our staff.  Our MRI Team work closely with our doctors and are experienced providers of imaging care.

    Our MRI staff will assist in coordinating any accompanying x-rays if needed.

  • What if I have claustrophobia and discomfort?

    Options to help manage claustrophobia or possible discomfort can be discussed with you at the time of booking and prior to the exam.

    The MRI Technologists are available to you during the exam and will assist as needed.

  • Why do I need contrast?

    Depending on your healthcare provider’s questions or concerns, contrast may be required to complete the exam and provide the information required.  The MRI Technologist will ensure all of your questions are answered prior to having you consent to the injection into your vein or into a joint. 

    We only use contrast agents when we believe it is required to answer your doctor’s question. The related $250 fee is for the cost of the contrast, medical supplies and the additional time and images required.

  • May I have as many MRIs as I want?

    MRI is accepted as very safe but is performed to only to help your healthcare team answer a question or to provide information needed in deciding what treatment is best for you.  Medical exams should only be used when considered appropriate to answer a clinical question and are medically indicated. We require an exam to be requested from an appropriate regulated healthcare provider. EFW does not perform comprehensive MRI body screening.

  • Can the price change?

    EFW performs only clinically warranted MRI and our Staff and Physicians will design the best exam to answer your healthcare team’s questions. The cost and nature of the exam will be fully shared with you prior to the exam being completed. 

Computed Tomography

  • How do I prepare for a CT exam?

    Tell your doctor if there’s a possibility you are pregnant and discuss any recent illnesses, medical conditions, medications you’re taking, as well as any allergies you have. 

    For Abdominal and Pelvis CT exams you will be instructed not to eat or drink anything for 4 hours beforehand. For all other CT’s there is no preparation. You may be asked to wear a gown for the CT exam.

  • What is CT Contrast?

    A special dye called contrast material is needed for some CT scans to help highlight the areas of your body being examined. The contrast material blocks X-rays and appears white on images, which can help emphasize blood vessels, intestines or other structures.

  • Patients Who Have Diabetes or Renal Disease

    Patients who have diabetes or renal disease require special care because the kidneys are involved in filtering iodine from the bloodstream. These patients should consult with their physician about proper scheduling of your CT scan, around your dialysis times. Our booking clerks will work with you to book your CT Scan with 24 hours of your next dialysis appointment, but you can wait to dialyse up to 48 hours post CT Contrast injection. 

    After your procedure, you will get a copy of your images and you and your physician will receive a copy of your report within 48 hours.

  • What to expect at your appointment?

    During the Exam

    For your CT examination you will be asked to lie on a table that moves on a track through the doughnut-shaped scanner. As the procedure begins, you will hear humming, buzzing or clicking sounds from the CT machine. The table will move in and out of the scanner as the CT tube rotates around you. Each time you move in and out of the scanner, the scanner completes a separate view. The information is processed by the computer and displayed as images on a computer screen to the Technologist. You should remain as still as possible to produce the clearest images. Depending upon the procedure being performed, you may be asked to hold your breath for up to 30 seconds at a time for each series or set of images. Most exams require 15 to 30 minutes to complete. 

  • Allergies

    Contrast Medium Intravenously

    If you are given contrast medium intravenously, you may notice a metallic taste in your mouth and a warm sensation throughout your body. These sensations are harmless and subside within a few moments.  Some patients may have an allergic reaction to the contrast medium, which is iodine-based. Patients who are allergic to iodine may experience itching, sneezing or other allergic symptoms in response. If you experience such a reaction you will be treated before being released to go home. In rare cases, the contrast medium can trigger anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction in which the tissues of the airway become swollen enough to restrict breathing. In such rare, (only 1:100,000 patients have this type of reaction to CT contrast, emergency treatment is immediately given.

    Please let us know if you know or think you are allergic to iodine.

Types of MRIs

  • Brain

    This type of MRI scan is a painless test that produces very detailed images of this complex organ. Healthcare providers rely on this imaging to evaluate your brain’s anatomy and exclude or diagnose changes related to clinical findings or specific symptoms. 

    You will lay on your back with supports around your head to help hold still and maintain comfort. Our MRI team works with you to ensure you are supported and prepared for what will happen during the exam.

    Brain scans usually take 20 to 60 minutes.

  • Spine

    A spine MRI evaluates vertebral anatomy, disk spaces, ligaments, and the spinal cord. It can detect congenital abnormalities or injuries to the spine, or explore causes of back pain, and weakness. It is also used to plan surgical procedures and monitor post-surgery progress.

    You will lay on your back with supports around your head to help hold still and maintain comfort. Our MRI team works with you to ensure you are supported and prepared for what will happen during the exam.

    The spine has different areas that can be imaged (cervical, thoracic and lumbar). Each area can take about 20 minutes to scan. 

    The overall time requirements of a scan may vary as our team will tailor the exam to address the concerns and questions of your healthcare provider.

  • Bones, Muscles and Joints

    Bones, muscles and joints are one of the most common MRI exams.

    Common areas scanned: 

    • Shoulder
    • Knee
    • Hip 
    • Elbow
    • Wrist
    • Hand
    • Finger/thumb
    • Ankle
    • Foot
    • Long Bones
    • SI or SC joint

    You will usually be lying flat while supported with cushions to help hold still and maintain comfort.

    These types of scans generally take 30 minutes for each specific area.

  • Breast

    A breast MRI scan evaluates the breast and nearby chest wall. A breast MRI is most often performed as part of a full evaluation in combination with mammography or ultrasound. It is not a replacement for mammography. Breast Cancer screening and breast implant integrity scans are available.

    A specialized breast imaging camera will be used, which requires you to lay prone, in a facedown position.

    Breast MRI scans generally take 60 minutes.

  • Abdomen

    Abdominal MRI is performed to capture images of internal organs in the abdomen such as liver, spleen, pancreas, kidneys, and the digestive tract.  Usually, an injection of contrast is required to highlight certain structures and provide further diagnostic information.

    You will need to lay your back and may be asked to hold your breath for short periods of time during the examination.

    These exams typically take 30-60 minutes.

    Prior to coming, do not eat or drink for 6 hours. Please continue to take your medications.  Further details will be provided at the time of booking.

  • Pelvis

    Pelvic MRI scans evaluate organs and structures inside the pelvic region – which includes important structures such as the bladder, portions of the digestive tract and major female reproductive organs. Usually, an injection of contrast is required to highlight certain structures.

    You will lay on your back while supported with cushions to help hold still and maintain comfort.

    These exams typically take 60 minutes.

    Prior to coming, do not eat or drink for 6 hours. Please continue to take your medications.

  • Prostate

    Prostate MRI is used to evaluate the tissue of the gland, the bladder as well as other nearby structures. Usually, an injection of contrast is required to highlight certain structures.

    You will lay on your back while supported with cushions to help hold still and maintain comfort.  These exams typically take 60 minutes.

    Prior to coming, do not eat or drink for 6 hours. Please continue to take your medications.  Further instructions regarding preparation for a prostate MRI will be provided at the time of booking. 

  • MR Arthrogram

    An MR arthrogram is a study used to assess the structures within a joint. An MRI is performed following the X-Ray-guided injection of contrast directly into the joint space. The contrast helps better assess structures such as cartilage, internal ligaments and tendons.

    You will lay on your back while supported with cushions to help hold still and maintain comfort. The scan typically takes 30 minutes, and will often require general X-rays prior to the injection of contrast. These will be coordinated at the time of booking. Patients can expect to be in the clinic for approximately 90 minutes.

  • Temporomandibular¬†Joint - TMJ

    These exams will look at the joint in both closed and open mouth positions. A bite block is provided to ensure that you are able to maintain an appropriate position and remain still.

    You will lay on your back while supported with cushions to help hold still and maintain comfort. The scan typically takes 30 minutes.