MRI Head Neck Benefits Risks

  • MRI is a non-invasive imaging technique that does not involve exposure to ionizing radiation.
  • Images created from an MRI of the brain and other cranial structures are clearer and more detailed than with other imaging methods. This detail makes MRI an invaluable tool in early diagnosis and evaluation of many conditions, including tumours.
  • The contrast material used in MRI examinations is less likely to produce an allergic reaction than the iodine-based contrast materials used for conventional x-rays and CT scanning.
  • A variant called MR angiography (MRA) provides detailed images of blood vessels in the brain and neck, often without the need for contrast material. You can read more about this in the MRA section of our website.
  • The MRI examination poses almost no risk to the average patient when appropriate safety guidelines are followed.
  • If sedation is used, there are risks of excessive sedation. However, the Radiographer or Nurse will monitor your vital signs to minimise this risk.
  • Although the strong magnetic field is not harmful in itself, implanted medical devices that contain metal may malfunction or cause problems during an MRI examination.
  • Nephrogenic Systemic Fibrosis is currently a recognized, but rare, complication of MRI believed to be caused by the injection of high doses of gadolinium-based contrast material in patients with very poor kidney function. Careful assessment of kidney function before considering a contrast injection minimises the risk of this very rare complication.
  • There is a very slight risk of an allergic reaction if contrast material is injected. Such reactions usually are mild and easily controlled by medication. If you experience symptoms of an allergic reaction, a Radiologist or other Physician will be available for immediate assistance.
  • Manufacturers of intravenous contrast indicate mothers should not breastfeed their babies for 24-48 hours after contrast medium is given. However, both the American College of Radiology (ACR) and the European Society of Urogenital Radiology note that the available data suggest that it is safe to continue breastfeeding after receiving intravenous contrast. 
  • High-quality images are assured only if you are able to remain perfectly still while the images are being recorded. If you are anxious, confused or in severe pain, you may find it difficult to lie still during imaging.
  • A person who is very large may not fit into the opening of the MRI machine.
  • The presence of an implant or other metallic object sometimes makes it difficult to obtain clear images. Patient movement can have the same effect.
  • Although there is no reason to believe that MRI harms the foetus, pregnant women usually are advised not to have this examination during the first trimester, unless medically necessary.
  • MRI may not always distinguish between cancer tissue and fluid, known as oedema.
  • MRI typically costs more and may take more time to perform than other imaging techniques.