Brain, CCJ and Cervical Spine MRI scan | Medserena Open MRI

Medserena Brain, CCJ and Cervical Spine MRI Scan

MRI scan of the Brain, Craniocervical Junction and Cervical Spine; non-invasive procedure to help diagnose medical conditions relating to the brain and junction between the base of the skull and the cervical spine, price includes:

  • Open and Upright MRI scan
  • variPOSETM flexion, extension and rotational views
  • 120 minutes appointment
  • Radiologist findings report
  • Images on USB at the end of the scan
    and 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 Brain and Craniocervical Junction MRI scan information.

Many Scans Available within 48 hours

Superior healthcare service with every Private MRI scan

Calm, dignified

Little or no
waiting time

Largest MRI scan centres


Watch TV while

Medical report included

About Brain, CCJ and Cervical Spine MRI Scans

A brain CCJ and cervical spine MRI scan is a comprehensive three-in-one package of scans that examine the brain, the craniocervical junction between (the top two bones in the cervical spine) and the cervical spine, the seven bones called vertebrae that make up the cervical segment of the spine between the base of the skull and the upper back. These vertebrae are stacked on top of each other to form the spinal column.

These scans can be used to investigate a number of issues including neck pain, headaches, stiffness, numbness, problems with blood vessels, balance issues, and neurological illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease and multiple sclerosis, plus head injuries, normal pressure hydrocephalus, and stroke, as well as arthritis.

The brain CCJ and cervical MRI scan is performed in an upright scanner with the patient in a seated position, with a head coil over the head.

This piece of equipment is open in two places at the front allowing you to still see out/watch the television and see the radiographer, who is in continuous contact with you, minimising the feeling of being enclosed. This makes it a good option if you suffer from claustrophobia and cannot face the prospect of being scanned in a conventional tunnel MRI scanner.

What conditions can a brain CCJ and cervical MRI scan detect?

These include:

  • Headaches: Brain CCJ and cervical MRI scans can be used to identify structural underlying causes for a headache such as a brain tumour, fluid build-up, an aneurysm (bulging or ballooning of an artery due to weakness in the artery wall), or inflammation.
  • Stroke: MRI brain scans can reveal a stroke, caused either by bleeding, or an artery blocked by a clot in the brain, both are medical emergencies as they can starve the brain of oxygen, leading to brain damage, loss of speech, and paralysis.
  • Multiple Sclerosis: MS is a neurological disease which can affect balance, movement, balance, eyesight, and sensation in the limbs.[i] A diagnosis of MS can’t be made solely with an MRI scan, but it can show damage to the myelin sheath, the protective layer which surrounds nerves.
  • Head injury: Head trauma can cause bleeding, swelling of the brain and other injuries, and these can be confirmed on a brain MRI scan.
  • Alzheimer’s disease: Evidence of Alzheimer’s disease may be visible as shrinkage of the brain in specific areas such as the temporal lobe. An MRI scan would just form part of the diagnosis though, memory and other symptoms will also be assessed by a doctor.
  • Cysts: A cyst is a fluid filled sac and can press on structures in the brain causing problems such as nausea or headaches. There are seven types of cysts and just like tumours they can be malignant(cancerous) or benign. Brain cysts are caused by fluid build-up in an area of the brain. Brain cysts can form during the first few weeks when a baby is growing in the womb. Some cysts might form because of a head injury or other trauma to the brain.
  • Craniocervical instability (CCI): MRI scans can determine if craniocervical instability is present. This is a condition which can cause constant headaches and a heavy head feeling. It is structural instability at the junction of where the skull meets the spine which makes it prone to excessive movement. This can lead to ligaments becoming stretched, weakened, or ruptured. It is common in patients with the inherited hypermobility condition Ehlers-Danlos syndromes, a group of rare conditions which affect connective tissue. Some people develop CCI after a whiplash injury from a car crash.
  • Chiari malformation: Type 1 Chiari malformation is where the lower part of the brain pushes down onto the spinal canal, and sometimes requires surgery.[ii] This is a condition that is present from birth but not usually discovered until adulthood. Some people have no symptoms, and the Chiari malformation is only diagnosed when they have an MRI scan. These can be assessed more accurately in an upright scanner rather than lying flat in a tunnel scanner.
  • Cervical spondylosis: Commonly referred to as arthritis of the neck, this condition comes from wear and tear of muscles and bones in the neck region, leading to thinning of cartilage in the spinal discs. The resulting pain and stiffness in the neck and shoulders can cause headaches at the back of the head[iii] This can also include herniated discs in the neck.

Other benefits of a Medserena brain CCJ and cervical MRI scan

Upright 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. Although the upright scanner uses a head coil which fits over the patient’s head, patients report feeling less enclosed than in a tunnel scanner.

Upright MRI scans can also accommodate some larger/heavier patients who might have difficulty fitting comfortably into a conventional tunnel scanner, as they can take weights of up to 35 stone (226kg). However, suitability depends on the patient’s build and the areas of the anatomy that need to be scanned.

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:

  • Pacemaker
  • IUDs
  • Surgical clips
  • Pregnancy
  • 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.