MRI Head & Neck

MRI of the head has a broad indication. The alternative modality of CT is the primary mechanism to assess the brain in the acute situation (such as in suspected stroke or head trauma). CT is particularly good at demonstrating haemorrhage but loses sensitivity and specificity for other conditions. However, MRI is the better test in the non-acute scenario.

MRI of the head is routinely employed to assess for causes of seizure or other unexplained neurological complaints. It is also useful as a modality to follow-up diagnosed conditions which may progress, such as demyelinating diseases (multiple sclerosis), tumours and other inflammatory conditions.

MRI can also assess the orbits in great detail, and is excellent at assessing for optic neuritis, masses, thyroid eye disease and other inflammatory conditions.

MRI of the head is also used to assess for potential inner ear problems such as vertigo and nystagmus.

It is a commonly requested examination for evaluating the neck region. This could be used to investigate suspicious superficial or subcutaneous lumps or deeper structures such as the base of the tongue, the pharynx and the larynx.

Screening with CT or MRI in patients who present with isolated, non-traumatic headache is usually not warranted. Examples of headaches for which imaging may be helpful include:
  • Headaches associated with head and neck trauma; new, worse, or abrupt-onset headache; thunderclap headache; headache radiating to the neck; persistent positional headache; and temporal headache in older individuals. 
  • Pregnant patients, immunocompromised individuals, cancer patients, and patients with papilledema or systemic illnesses, including hypercoagulable disorders.
Unlike most headaches, those associated with cough, exertion, or sexual activity usually require neuroimaging with MRI of the brain with and without contrast to exclude potentially underlying pathology before a primary headache syndrome is diagnosed.
There are several options available for booking a scan at the Mater Private:
Online: On each services page you will find a request an appointment button on the right hand side of your screen. This will automatically email our team with your request. A member of the team will then be in touch to arrange a suitable date and time.
Email: An email can be sent to the team at
Phone: You can call us on  01 885 8173 / 01 885 8461 
Fax: You can fax a referral to 01 885 8282
How long does the process take?
Once an examination has been booked an appointment letter will be posted to the patient. In this letter we will include a patient information leaflet with answers to some of the most frequently asked questions regarding the examination. This content can also be found on our website. At the Mater Private Dublin we can generally accommodate MRI requests within two weeks of booking.
There is no specific preparation for an MRI of the head and neck. Most examinations last approximately 30 minutes but can sometimes take longer.  The patient will be able to leave immediately following the examination and will be given a disc containing the images from the scan. A Consultant Radiologist will interpret the study and dictate the report on the same day for most examinations. The report will be posted to the referring Physician on that day or the next.
At the Mater Private Hospital, we have a number of direct settlement agreements in place with the various insurance companies:
  • MRI is fully covered by Aviva, GLO, GMA and ESB (majority of plans covered)
  • VHI cover with consultant referral only
A patient's level of cover will be discussed with them at the time of booking their appointment. Our insurance advisors will be happy to check a patient's level of cover at the Mater Private Hospital with their particular plan. 
Our insurance helpline is available on 01 885 8177.  
Alternatively you can email
In the event that your patient is not covered by his/her private health insurance, they will be advised on the cost of the scan at the time of booking.