Elbow MRI Scan
MRI scan of the elbow; non-invasive procedure to help diagnose medical conditions relating to the tendons, muscles, cartilage, ligaments and bones of the elbow joint, price includes:
- Open and Upright MRI scan
- 45 minutes appointment
- Radiologist findings report
Images on USB at the end of the scanand available to NHS trusts via IEP on request
- Complimentary refreshments
Please wear metal free clothing and if possible, avoid wearing any jewellery. Alternatively, Medserena can provide you with a gown to change into for your scan. Scroll down for more elbow joint MRI scan information.
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About Elbow MRI Scans
Elbow pain can restrict movement, including daily activities such as dressing, using a keyboard, lifting, driving, and playing sport and can cause sleep disturbance if severe, so needs treatment with painkillers, physiotherapy or less commonly surgery.
An elbow MRI scan is particularly useful for identifying problems with tendons and ligaments, as well as compression and nerve entrapment issues and osteoarthritis in the bone.
Medserena’s elbow MRI scan is carried out in an upright scanner so the elbow can be viewed when the patient is in the sitting position, much more comfortable for the patient than laying on a flatbed scanner on their stomach with their arm outstretched. This gives a detailed picture of what is happening in the elbow.
Elbow pain is usually associated with strained or inflamed soft tissues such as tendons, so MRI is useful for diagnosing these types of problems. MRI scans are painless and because in an open scanner a patient’s head is not enclosed, they are less intimidating for people who suffer from anxiety about being in confined spaces or have claustrophobia, a condition that affects around 10 per cent of the population.
What an open elbow MRI scan can reveal
Elbow MRI scans can reveal detailed images of structures within the elbow joint including soft tissue, nerve, blood vessels and bone problems, including the following:
- Tennis elbow: This is the commonest form of elbow pain and develops when the tendon that joins the bony lump (lateral epicondyle) on the outside of the elbow becomes inflamed, or has micro-tears. Pain is worse when gripping or using a twisting action and is not exclusive to tennis players. People who work in occupations where they twist and grip frequently in repetitive actions such as using a computer, carpentry, or catering, are often affected. Pain can vary in severity but at its worst it can interfere with sleep.
- Golfer’s elbow: This affects tendons that attach muscle to the bone on the inside side of the elbow (called the medial epicondyle). Although it can affect golfers, it is also associated with any action that involves flexing and twisting the forearm, wrist, and hand. Pain is felt on the outside of the elbow, particularly when gripping. There is usually a general weakness in the wrist.
- Olecranon bursitis: Bursae are fluid-filled sacs that cushion joints and are found where tendons and ligaments move over bone. They can become inflamed with repetitive friction or underlying conditions such as gout or arthritis. Symptoms include warmth and pain at the back of the elbow and restriction of movement.
- Compressed or trapped nerves: One of the most common forms of nerve entrapment in the elbow is a condition called cubital tunnel syndrome, where the ulnar nerve becomes compressed under the medial epicondyle bone. It can cause pain, pins and needles, and a weak grip in the hand.
- Arthritis: Both osteoarthritis which thins the cartilage shock-absorber layer in joints and rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease which is caused by the body’s immune system attacking joints, can also cause elbow pain. Osteoarthritis symptoms include pain, stiffness, and movement restriction and rheumatoid arthritis causes inflamed joints, which may swell and compress nerves causing pins and needles in the hand. Other forms of arthritis which affect the elbow include psoriatic arthritis, a type of inflammatory arthritis, and joint damage caused by the build-up of crystals in the joints due to gout.
- Loose bone or cartilage in the joint: This is another cause of elbow pain and once diagnosed may require washing out with surgery. It is more common in people who make repetitive overhead movements such as weight-lifting or manual labourers.
Other benefits of a Medserena elbow MRI Scan
Open MRI scanners are a stress-free alternative to using a conventional enclosed tunnel MRI scanner, providing comfort and reassurance for people who suffer from anxiety or claustrophobia. Sitting upright is more comfortable for patients and the open front means patients can speak to a friend or relative or watch television throughout as distraction.
Open MRI scans can also accommodate larger/ heavier patients who might have difficulty fitting comfortably into a conventional tunnel scanner, as they can take weights of up to 35 stones (226kg). However, suitability depends on the patient’s build and the area of the body that needs scanning.
Available to self-pay clients, clients with private health insurance and NHS patients where prior funding has been agreed by a clinical commissioning group.
The Upright MRI is truly open. There are no tunnels, no narrow tubes. The system is particularly quiet, the examination is comfortable and does not trigger feelings of being in a confined space. This means that the Upright MRI is particularly tolerated by patients who suffer from “claustrophobia”.
Because the system offers you an unrestricted view, you can watch TV or see DVD movies on a large screen during the scan. Wearing headphones – as with other MRI systems – is usually not necessary.
According to the current state of knowledge, there is no danger to the patient’s health as magnetic resonance imaging only uses magnetic fields and radio waves.
Metallic foreign bodies within the patient, such as fixed dental prosthesis, artificial joints or metal plates after treatment for a fracture do not usually pose any danger. However, it is important to clarify that the implants you use are MRI-compatible before the examination.
MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) utilises a large magnet, radio waves and a computer to form images of your body. It is non-invasive, painless and does not use any ionising radiation.
Our truly open MRI can scan you in different positions. Through the utilisation of a specially designed MRI system we can offer weight-bearing scans – sitting or standing. The design of the system allows the patient to be positioned in different postures (e.g. flexion or extension) so that the patient may be examined in the position where they experience pain. The reason to do this is that some pathologies are underestimated or even not seen in a conventional supine MRI scan. The technique has value in many applications: e.g. spine, knees, hips, ankles. This has been proven in scientific studies and documented in peer reviewed publications.
In addition, it offers the possibility of performing an MRI scan on patients who could not otherwise tolerate the examination. This may include the claustrophobic patient, who benefits from the truly open nature of the equipment, and the severely kyphotic patient or emphysema sufferer who simply cannot lie down. It can also facilitate scanning of large patients who struggle to fit conventional ‘bore’ MRI scanners.
Of course, we have a comfortable waiting area but if you want them to stay in the scan room with you, they will also need to fill out a safety questionnaire. There is enough space for a companion. The person can even hold your hand and communicate with you during the examination. This is particularly beneficial when examining teenager.
This depends above all on which part of the body needs to be examined. In the Upright MRI, special examinations can be carried out in various body positions. The entire scan generally takes between 30 and 45 minutes. However, since you have the opportunity to watch TV or DVD, this time will go by much quicker.
Eat and drink normally and, unless your doctor tells you otherwise, please continue taking medications as normal. If you have any special needs (e.g. wheelchair access) please inform us when making the appointment.
Your appointment confirmation; referral letter/form; Medical Insurance details if applicable. We accept all major debit/credit cards.
We will provide a gown/clothing for you to wear when you are scanned. If you prefer to wear your own, please ensure that you wear or bring clothing without any metal fasteners, zips or under-wiring as these cannot be worn in the scan room. The changing room can be locked for safe storage of your possessions.
You will be able to walk into the scanner. It has no tunnel or bore. You will be able to hear us and talk with us during your scan if necessary-and we will be able to see you at all times. Due to its open nature, you will even be able to watch TV or a DVD whilst having the scan. Depending on which part of you is being scanned, you may be asked to sit or stand, and assume different postures (for example bending forward.) The radiographer may place a receiver “coil” around the relevant area of your body. You will need to remain very still while the acquisition is done in order to prevent blurring of the images. You will hear some tapping from the scanner but in general it is much quieter than many other MRI scanners.
You will not feel anything while having the scan. There is no pain or unusual feeling of any type and you will experience no after effects.
YES. There are some things that can prevent you from having an MRI scan. You will be asked to complete a safety questionnaire on arrival at the Centre which will cover the contra-indications-but if you are making an appointment and any of the factors below affect you, please discuss this with us in advance as it may save you a wasted trip.
Contra-indications can include:
- Surgical clips
- Metal fragments in the body
- Metal pins/plates/screws
- Joint replacements
- Metal objects in eyes
- Cochlear implants
- IVC filters
- Metal heart valves
- Penile implants
It is also important to tell us if you have any tattoos or piercings.
Watches, jewellery, coins, keys, cigarette lighters, penknives, credit cards. piercings, hairgrips, wigs, nicotine patches, and hearing aids must be removed.
Your scan will be reported by a Consultant Radiologist. It will normally be available in a couple of days unless needed urgently. The images and report will be sent to your referring practitioner. If you have a follow up appointment, please make us aware of the details so we can ensure the report and images are available in time.