26 Apr, 2024

When To Worry About MRI Results: Timeframes and What Happens Next

Getting an MRI scan can be a daunting prospect, especially if you’re not sure what happens after your NHS or private scan has been completed. 

At Scan.com, we aim to make the entire experience as reassuring and stress-free as possible. One of the advantages of choosing our private MRI services is that you can refer yourself without needing a GP referral, allowing you to take control of your healthcare journey. If you're unsure which type of scan might be most suitable for your needs, our team of expert clinicians is available for a full consultation to guide you in the right direction.

If you’re worried about your MRI results, you’ll find your questions answered here, from how long it takes to get your results on the NHS vs privately, to how they will be explained to you by one of our expert clinicians when you book with us.

At Scan.com, we’ve anticipated all the questions and concerns you may have, and we’ve built that into how we deliver your results. You can feel confident that you'll have all the information you need, explained in a manner you can fully understand.

How will I receive my MRI results?

MRI scan results are usually delivered as a written report, accompanied by the images taken from your scan. The NHS will usually share these with your GP or consultant, who will then arrange an appointment to discuss the outcomes with you. This can take up to 8 weeks in some cases.

Scan.com makes it easy for you to understand your private MRI results in just a matter of days. After your scan, you'll receive a call from one of our clinicians, who will explain the findings clearly, and answer any questions. They will then share your detailed report as a PDF via email. 

While your report will contain medical terminology, we also include an interactive patient-friendly report that breaks down your results and explains everything in plain language with no confusing medical jargon. You can view a sample of this easy-to-understand report here. You can also request the images from your MRI scan. 

How long do MRI results take to create?

You might wonder, can MRI results be seen immediately? While the radiologist, a medical doctor trained to interpret medical images, can usually view the scans right away, it takes some time for them to review and analyse the images carefully before writing a detailed report.

When you have a private scan, you’ll usually receive your results around 7 working days after your MRI scan to allow time for this reporting process. 

How quickly will a doctor call with MRI results?

Waiting for your MRI results can be a worrying time, especially if you’re concerned about your symptoms, but at Scan.com we have a thorough process in place to ensure your results are explained to you properly. 

The radiologist at your selected scanning centre will share their report with our clinical team at Scan.com. Our clinicians review the report and call you directly within 2 days of receiving the results, to discuss the outcomes and any next steps. 

They will take the time to support you through this process and answer any questions, ensuring you have a good understanding of your results before we send over the report and images. This means you’ll never be left alone to interpret your results before speaking to an expert. 

If your results indicate something urgent, we will call you on the same working day we receive your report from the radiologist. Not only that, but we will also promptly notify your GP about the urgent results so they can arrange the next steps in your care and treatment.

We know that waiting for results can be an anxious time, which is why we make it a priority to discuss them with you as soon as possible after receiving the report. You can have peace of mind knowing our team is dedicated to keeping you fully informed and supported throughout the entire process.

NHS vs Private: How long does it take for MRI results to be shared?

While it can take up to 8 weeks for MRI results with the NHS, your scan results will be available from Scan.com in as little as 7 working days. While private scans can be more expensive compared to free MRI scans on the NHS, the waiting times can contribute to anxiety and ongoing concerns. If you need to access treatment quickly for a condition, this can also cause worry and a poorer quality of life. 

Waiting times to have an MRI scan with the NHS have also increased, but you can usually book a private MRI scan within a few days, at a time and place that’s convenient to you, including evenings and weekends. 

Private scans also tend to be in more comfortable, patient-friendly environments, compared to a busy NHS hospital. This can be reassuring if you have anxiety about your MRI scan. 

Did you know? Once you have the results, even if you had a private scan, you can still take them back to your NHS GP or clinician to access any onward care or treatment that you may need. Rest assured, we're here to guide you through every step and alleviate any concerns you might have about understanding your MRI results.

If MRI results are bad, do they tell you right away?

Every hospital, whether private or NHS, will have defined pathways for urgent results or significant findings. Reporting times can vary by hospital, so it is worth asking when their radiologists usually report on scans. It is very unlikely you would be informed of a concerning result right after your scan has been finished, as the images need to be interpreted by a radiologist for a detailed diagnosis.

Our urgent findings pathway is to communicate urgent results to you as soon as possible, usually on the same day we receive your report. However, we’ll ensure your clinician still explains your MRI results clearly, so that you understand any findings and know what the next steps are. 

However, a speedy delivery of results does not necessarily mean bad news. Some medical facilities are simply able to provide results very quickly due to efficient reporting processes. At Scan.com, we aim to discuss your results with you as soon as possible after receiving them, whether routine or urgent. So try not to be alarmed if you receive a call soon after your scan. 

What are urgent MRI findings?

Urgent MRI findings usually describe results that indicate a serious or potentially life-threatening medical condition, but rest assured, these types of findings are quite rare. Here are some examples of urgent MRI findings:

  • Problems in the brain, such as bleeding, evidence of a stroke or an aneurysm, or brain damage.

  • Tumours, including cancerous tumours.

  • Spinal problems, such as injury or disease.

  • Problems with internal organs, such as injury or disease.

While most MRI results don't fall into this urgent category, you need to know that our clinicians take urgent findings extremely seriously. That’s why if your report contains anything urgent, they’ll be in touch as soon as they receive it.

What does an MRI image look like?

An MRI scan takes detailed pictures of the soft tissues and structures inside your body. MRI images are produced in greyscale, with tissues, cartilage, bones and organs appearing in different shades of grey, from light grey, almost white, to dark grey, almost black. This can help to show any damage, inflammation or other abnormalities. Fluid-filled structures or blood vessels may appear darker, while areas of higher density, such as bone, may appear lighter.

Sometimes, false colour is used as an overlay to show areas of inflammation or damage to help the clinician better identify any problems or concerns. 

Whatever your MRI image shows, your clinician will take time to explain it carefully to you, so you understand what your report and MRI images mean. 

When to worry about MRI results

We know that waiting for MRI results can be stressful and worrying. That’s why you’ll never be left alone to interpret your MRI scan results without the expert guidance of your clinician. Your clinician will take the time to review your MRI result with you in detail, so you can fully understand what the report shows. They’ll support you through the process, regardless of the outcome of your scan.

If your MRI result reveals a specific diagnosis, your clinician will explain exactly how they have come to the diagnosis using your MRI report. They’ll also talk you through potential treatment options or next steps, ensuring you have all the information you need to make an informed decision about your health.

Your MRI results may be clear, and you’ll need no further tests or treatment. Our clinicians will gladly review the all-clear findings with you to address any lingering concerns or questions.

Your clinician may also recommend additional testing based on your MRI results. If so, they’ll guide you through the process, outlining the reasons for further examination and what you can expect.


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