Waiting for an MRI? You have options!

Private MRI wait times are 2 weeks. View private MRI clinics near Winnipeg.
*MB has NO private-pay MRI's. You must travel out of province.

What is an MRI and are they safe?

A Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan takes high resolution images of the body, to help doctors identify health issues. 

MRI's are safe.

Unlike a Computerized Tomography (CT) scan which can give the radiation equivalent of thousands of X-Rays in a single scan, MRI's use powerful magnets which have no known health impacts to the human body and provide unrivaled image quality. 

However, if you have any permanent magnetic metals in your body from surgery like plates, screws, clips, and sometimes even tattoos or shrapnel, you may not be able to have an MRI.

Specific screening questions will be asked prior to your MRI occurring.

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What are current Manitoba MRI wait times?

Manitoba MRI wait times are 24 weeks. Winnipeg MRI wait times are 29 weeks. (As of July 2021)

Click picture for latest data

Is the MRI cancellation list faster?

Yes, but you're only added to the cancellation list if you ask your doctor. Silly huh?

Cancellation calls are typically very short notice. Be prepared for an out-of-the-blue call, requesting you on the scanner within a few hours.

NOTE: If your doctor requests a Winnipeg MRI, the request goes through central booking. A letter is sent to you by mail within 1-3 months of your appointment. With Winnipeg MRI wait times nearing 9 months, this means many months "radio silence" may pass between your doctor's request and confirmation of your MRI appointment by mail. 

What is a private-pay MRI?

It's when the patient buys the scan out of their own pocket.

There are currently NO private MRI clinics in Winnipeg or Manitoba. You must travel out-of-province. 

Private-pay MRI wait times are under 2 weeks. 

Why is Alberta cheaper than Sask?

In order to allow private MRI's in Saskatchewan, the province forced a "1 for 1" rule on MRI companies. For every private, fee based MRI scan a company does, it must scan 1 person on the public waiting list for free.

 

So a private customer is not only paying for their own MRI scan, they're effectively paying for 1 scan on the public waitlist too. Hence the increase in cost.

Why does MRI strength matter?

More power means clearer images and shorter scan times.

The power of an MRI magnet is measured in Tesla's, or "T" for short. The most common MRI machines are 1.5T and 3T. The higher the "T" the more powerful the MRI scanner.

 

A 3T MRI takes roughly half the time as a 1.5T. This can be advantageous if a patient has trouble sitting still.


While 1.5T MRI's are often sufficient, a 3T may be recommended for more intricate issues. Read more about their differences here.

Below is a brain MRI scan from a 1.5T and 3T machine to demonstrate clarity.

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What is MRI contrast dye?

Typically comprised of Gadolinium, contrast enhances the images an MRI takes. In fact, some conditions can only be discovered by using contrast.

If requested, contrast is injected into the bloodstream and enhances the image quality of an MRI scan. Contrast is NOT required for every scan, only when looking for certain issues.

While commonly regarded as safe, recent debates have called this into question. Do your own research and consult your doctor or radiologist with any concerns if MRI contrast is requested.

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I've chosen a company. Now what?

To book the MRI scan, your Manitoba doctor needs to send a requisition to the clinic you've chosen. An MRI cannot occur unless a doctor requests it. Even if you're paying.

 

Each clinic's MRI referral form is attached to the comparison table above for your convenience.

Give the form to your doctor, they will send the request. Typically private MRI clinics will call you within days of receiving the request from your doctor, and book your MRI scan within a week or two.

Why no USA options?

Given COVID, closed borders, US exchange rate, pricing, and lack of transparent American websites; domestic options currently look most favorable.

If you have info on American MRI providers, share it in the comments below.

What about the MRI results?

Upon completing your scan, the private MRI clinic will typically provide you with a USB copy of your MRI images.

 

The images are NOT added to your Manitoba Health eChart file. The only way for Manitoba doctors and specialists to view the MRI images is via the USB copy. So keep it safe!

A radiologist will typically view your images within 1-3 days to write a report with the findings. This report will be sent to you and your doctors to follow up further.

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