Frequently Asked Questions

What is an MRI scan?

An MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scanner utilizes a combination of focused magnetic field, radio waves and a computer to produce highly detailed images of any part of the anatomy.

This diagnostic scan provides exceptional contrast between different soft tissues of the body, which makes it highly useful for diagnosing abnormalities of the brain, neck, spine, chest, abdomen, pelvis, as well as musculoskeletal areas (shoulder, elbow, wrist, hip,thigh, knee, calf, ankle, foot).

What is the difference between MRI and CT?

Both types of scanners produce 2D and 3D reconstructed images in multiple slices through the body. Ionizing radiation (X-Ray) is utilized to produce the CT images, whereas MRI uses radio frequency (RF) and the patient is not exposed to the hazards of radiation.

What kind of equipment does Surrey MRI have?

We use a state-of-the-art 1.5 Tesla Siemens Symphony TIM scanner.

What does Tesla mean?

Tesla is a unit measurement of magnetic field strength. The MRI equipment most commonly used in Canadian hospitals and clinics and thorughout the world are 1.5 Tesla.

Do I need a referral from my physician?

Under the regulations of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC, all diagnostic tests (whether done in the public or a private setting) require a requisition form from a physician. Surrey MRI is an accredited facility under the Diagnostic Accreditation Program of BC.

The referral is necessary so that your doctor can provide the required information to our Specialists, in order to perform and complete the most appropriate “type” of MRI scan. This is a very important aspect of the procedure.

MRI scans focus in on a particular area of anatomy to obtain the best “detail” of that area. Your doctor will indicate the “area” of examination to be scanned (which could be your lumbar spine, even if you have leg pain). Your physician will also indicate on this form your medical history as well as your symptoms, and what he/she is trying to “rule out”.

When you have a medical problem your doctor will use a variety of diagnostic tests, in order to investigate what is causing your symptoms. It is not unlike detective work, and he/she will gather information from different sources to obtain a diagnosis. Once your referral is received by our office, one of our Radiologists (the medical specialist who will interpret your MRI), will prescribe to the MRI Technologist the protocol (the instructions as to what type of scans to do) and whether or not a contrast (dye) is needed. The required protocol is another very important step for booking your MRI and includes a group of 3-5 minute different scans, each in a particular direction through the anatomy to rule out abnormalities in the tissue.

The referral can be from your family doctor or a specialist.

How do I book an appointment?


Step number one: obtain a referral from your physician. The referral can be accessed and downloaded here. Your doctor can fax it to 778-574-1614 or e-mail it to

Step number two: Once we receive the referral from your physician, our Radiologist will review it and recommend the necessary scans to be performed. Our staff will call you promptly to ask you some important safety questions and book a convenient appointment time. The procedure will be explained and the necessary information will be provided to prepare you for your MRI scan.

For MRI scans that require a contrast injection, the appointment will be have to be booked when there is a physician on site. For MR arthrograms the contrast is injected into the affected joint by a Radiologist on site, then patient will proceed directly to MR imaging room.

7. What if I need an urgent scan?

Please call our office immediately: 778-574-1610, and we will promptly expedite your request. We will require the doctor’s referral and in most cases we can book you for the same day, if not the following day.

What is the Screening/Safety form?


While MRI utilizes non-ionizing technology (no radiation), there are still important safety concerns. Because of the strong magnetic field that is always “on”, it is necessary for every person going into the MRI room to be evaluated and assessed safe to be in the proximity of this magnetic field.

The staff at Surrey MRI are trained to go over a detailed set of medical questions with you prior to your appointment time, to ensure your safety and comfort while undergoing the MRI exam.

Certain medical implants are contraindicated to MRI such as pacemakers, brain aneurysmal clips and neurostimulators. Patients that have done metal work (grinding or welding) or have had a piece of metal go into their eye accidentally, are required to have an orbital (eye) x-ray to rule out metallic foreign body within the eye. Our patient coordinators will arrange for this x-ray to be done prior to the patient’s appointment. At times it may also be necessary to obtain the information (surgical report) about a particular implant, in order for our Technologists and Radiologists to ensure your safety.

The staff at Surrey MRI must do the pre-screening and set up the orbit exams as necessary to ensure your safety during an MRI exam.

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