MRI – Magnetic Resonance Imaging

MRI exams are now available at Hawkesbury and District General Hospital



Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a painless medical imaging test that uses strong magnetic fields, radiofrequency waves and a computer to make detailed three-dimensional pictures of the organs, bones and tissues inside the body.

Who do we serve?

  • Patients aged 16 and over

You might not be able to have an MRI if you have the following:

  • A cochlear (ear) implant
  • Aneurysm clips
  • Coils placed in blood vessels
  • A defibrillator or pacemaker

MRI can be performed if you have:

  • Joint replacements, metal pins, screws and plates
  • Artificial heart valves
  • Coronary stents
  • Tooth fillings

Are there any risks or side effects?

  • MRI does not use ionizing radiation and there are no known harmful effects. However, if you are pregnant, a radiologist will be required to approve the examination.
  • Sometimes an injection of contrast (gadolinium) is required to enhance the images. Risk of serious reaction or side effects from the contrast is extremely low.
  • A very small amount of contrast can be present in breast milk and absorbed by the infant. It is recommended that breastfeeding patients pump and discard breast milk for a period of 24 to 48 hours after the exam.

Safety precautions

  • You must not bring metal objects within a designated area that begins close to the examination room. The very strong magnetic field of the machine can attract loose objects and cause them to move, turning them into dangerous projectiles.
  • Patients with objects implanted in their body may not be safe in the MRI environment.
  • It is very important to inform the MRI team if you have any metal in your body.
  • You will undergo safety screening prior to booking and on the day of the examination to ensure that you are safe to enter the MRI environment and the strong magnetic field.


The MRI is a test provided by the Medical Imaging Department.

How to access our services?

  • You must have a referral from your doctor or another healthcare professional to get an appointment for this test.

About The Program

Before your appointment

  1. Your doctor will fax us a request – please make sure your contact information is accurate so we may call you.
  2. We will call you within a few weeks to schedule an appointment. The wait time for your appointment will vary depending on the urgency of your case.
  3. During the booking call, we will go over the MRI safety screening form.
  4. You will receive a reminder call a few days before your appointment.
  5. Call us at least 48 hours in advance if you must cancel or change the date of your appointment.

What to bring

  • Health Card
  • List of all your medications, including prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, supplements and herbal medicines.

When you arrive

  • Please register at one the self-service registration kiosks at the Main Entrance at least 45 minutes before your scheduled appointment.
  • After registration, please report directly to the Medical Imaging Reception in Block A.
  • You will need to remove your clothes and wear a hospital gown.
  • Please leave jewelry, piercings and valuables at home. You will have to remove your glasses and any metal objects. Lockers are available to store your personal belongings.

Food, drink and medication

  • Depending on the body part to be examined, you may have to be without food or drink for several hours before the test. We will tell you when booking the appointment.
  • Unless you are told otherwise, you can drink, eat and take medicines as you normally would.

Use of a contrast agent

  • When needed, the dye (gadolinium) is injected into a vein through an IV (needle) started in your hand or arm. We will give you detailed instructions when booking your appointment.
  • Drink plenty of water in the 48 hours following the exam. The contrast will be eliminated through urine and will be colourless.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

  • If you are breastfeeding, pregnant or think you may be pregnant, tell the technologist before the exam.
  • If a contrast agent is used, it is recommended that that you pump and discard your breast milk for a period of 24 to 48 hours after the exam.

Anxiety and claustrophobia

  • Tell your family doctor if you suffer from anxiety or are nervous when in enclosed spaces, this is called claustrophobia. You doctor may prescribe a sedative to be taken before the exam to help you relax and lie still for the duration of the test. Technologists cannot provide you with sedatives.
  • You will need a driver if you are taking sedatives for the exam, as they can impair your driving ability.
  • MRI exams under general anesthesia are not available at HGH.
  • Our MRI technologists are trained to help you through the test.

The exam

  • During the examination, you lie on a table that slides into the MRI machine, which is open at both ends. The inside is well lit and has a fan that gently circulates air to keep you comfortable.
  • The body part to be imaged will be placed in the centre of the machine.
  • Depending on the area to be imaged, a radio frequency antenna may be placed around or near you.
  • When the test has started, the technologist will communicate with you through an intercom speaker. He or she is watching over you from the control room nearby. You can talk to the technologist and even sound an alarm during the procedure if you are feeling uncomfortable.
  • The technologist may ask you to hold your breath at times to help get clearer images.
  • The MRI produces loud and repetitive noise during scanning. This is normal and not dangerous. You will have to wear the provided protective earplugs or headphones to reduce the noise level.
  • The test usually lasts 30 to 50 minutes. The entire visit may take from 60 minutes to 2 hours.

Test results

  • Radiology technologists are not able to give you the results of your exam. Results will be sent to your physician within 10 working days.
  • Results will also be available in your electronic medical record. For information on the creation of an account and how to access your electronic medical record, visit MyChart.
  • You must book an appointment with your family doctor or healthcare professional who sent us the referral to discuss your test results.

Business hours

Office: Monday to Friday, from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Exams: 7 days a week, from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.


613-632-1111, option 1 (Appointments), then option 2 (Diagnostic Imaging)
Toll-free: 1-800-790-8870, option 2




HGH Main Campus
1111 Ghislain Street
Hawkesbury, ON K6A 3G5

The Medical Imaging Department is located in Block A. View a hospital plan.

External resources

Referring a patient for a MRI test at HGH

We accept patients aged 16 and over.

To refer an Ontario patient, please go to the MRI Central Intake Portal.

To refer a Québec patient, please review the decision support checklists below, then download, fill out and fax the referral form to 613-636-6172.

Referrals for MSK MRI require a recent (within past 12 months) radiography imaging of the joint requested. MSK MRI consist of shoulder, humerus, elbow, forearm, wrist, hand, finger, hip, femur, knee, tibia/fibula, ankle, feet and toes.

Appointment booking line: 1-800-790-8870, extension 82501


MRI Specifications

  • GE SIGNA Artist – Wide Bore
  • Bore size: 70cm/27.56 inches
  • Table load capacity: 227 kg/500 lbs.
  • Air Coil Technologies – Lightweight and adaptable coils design that conform gently to the patient’s anatomy


Procedures available

  • Brain with clinical indication
    • Sella Turcica/Pituitary Gland
    • Cancer
    • Metastatic disease
    • Neurosurgery follow-up
    • Neurosurgery scheduled
    • Multiple sclerosis (MS)
    • Seizure
    • Orbits
    • Sinus
    • Internal auditory canal (IAC)
    • Neck
    • Temporomandibular joints (TMJ)
  • Angio Imaging of
    • Circle of Willis TOF (Time of Flight)
    • Circle of Willis MRA
    • Carotid Arteries TOF
    • Carotid Arteries MRA
    • Sagittal Sinus MRV (Magnetic Resonance Venography)
    • Sagittal Sinus MRA
    • CE Renal Arteries (Contrast enhanced)
  • Spine imaging
    • Cervical Spine
    • Thoracic Spine
    • Lumbar Spine
    • Entire Spine
  • Pelvis
    • Enterography
    • Rectum/Anus
    • Peri-Anal fistula
    • Prostate
    • Female Pelvis
    • Pregnant Pelvis/Abdomen
  • Abdomen
    • Liver
    • Pancreas
    • MRCP
    • Kidney/Adrenal gland
  • Lower Extremities
    • MSK Pelvis
    • Hips
    • Femur
    • Tibia/Fibula
    • Knee
    • Foot
    • Ankle
  • Upper Extremities
    • Shoulder
    • Humerus
    • Elbow
    • Forearm
    • Wrist
    • Hand


Benefits of MRI Exam

  • MRI is the exam of choice in the preoperative staging of cancer and has a role in the diagnosis, staging, and follow-up of tumours.
  • MRI is best to diagnose many conditions of the central nervous system, including demyelinating diseases, dementia, cerebrovascular disease, infectious disease, Alzheimer’s disease and epilepsy.
  • MRI is also excellent for the musculoskeletal system including spinal imaging, assessment of joint disease and soft tissue tumours.
  • The hepatobiliary MRI is used to detect and characterize lesions of the liver, pancreas and bile ducts.
  • Magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) generates pictures of the arteries to evaluate them for stenosis or aneurysms.


The Hawkesbury and District General Hospital (HGH) provides more than 40 specialized medical clinics for residents of Prescott-Russell and surrounding region. For a list of clinics, departments and services, visit Refer a patient.