Diagnostic scans comparison guide

At Living Room Health, we offer a range of body scanning options and each comes with its own advantages and disadvantages. So, if you’re trying to identify the right scan for you, this mini-guide should help.

If you would rather speak to our bookings team, call us on 0330 580 1153.


How can MRI help me?​

More about MRI

An MRI is a scanning tool that uses radio waves and magnetic fields to take pictures of the inside of your body.

Using MRI, our qualified professionals can locate the cause of your pain and discomfort quickly, painlessly and with precision. An MRI scan produces high-quality images of your bones, muscles, tendons, and connective tissues to swiftly identify any damage or abnormalities. MRIs are also frequently used to produce images of the brain.

You can book directly book an MRI with us or learn more about our scanning services on our MRI scanning page.

There are closed MRI machines and open ones. (We use open MRIs.) You lie on a motorised bed and are slid into the machine or a frame is laid over the body part getting scanned. You must sit still while the scan is performed and might be asked to adjust your breathing for better pictures.

This depends on how many images are required and how big the body part is that is being scanned. Expect it to take between 15-90 minutes depending on the area.

Radiation doesn’t factor into MRIs. They use radio waves and magnets to make a picture of bones, muscles, blood vessels and organs. As such, there’s no increased risk of getting cancer as a result of the scan.

An MRI is great for painlessly looking at soft tissue and differentiating between muscle, fat and water. A CT or x-ray is better for bone imaging.

If a dye is needed to provide better images, you’ll need to get an injection. This is a contrast agent or dye that helps your tissues and blood vessels show up better. This might cause an allergic reaction or nausea in some people. However, since our MRIs are open, you won’t need a sedative or experience claustrophobia like traditional MRI machines. Open MRIs are also quieter for a more restful experience.

What is an open MRI scan?

At Living Room Health, we use the latest in MRI technology to provide the best patient scan experience possible. Traditional scanners use a closed capsule design where the magnet surrounds the patient. However, our open MRI scanners make less noise than a normal MRI and the ergonomic design reduces claustrophobia.

What can an MRI be used for?

An MRI scan is great for diagnosing some types of tumours (cancerous or benign), joint injuries, damaged ligaments or cartilage, other soft tissue injuries, spinal problems, brain injuries and bone infections. A full body screening MRI can help to find hidden medical conditions, you can read more about these from our interview with our clinical lead radiologist, Mr Qaiser Malik.

What can ultrasound identify?

More about ultrasound

An ultrasound scan is a common procedure that uses high-frequency sound waves to create images of the organs, blood vessels, and soft tissues inside the body. It can provide accurate information about the size, shape, and structure of these different parts and help identify abnormalities. You’ll be familiar with them from pregnancy scans.

A small device called an ultrasound probe is used, which produces high-frequency sound waves. An ultrasound is a non-invasive procedure. 

You can enquire for an ultrasound with us or learn more about our scanning services on our ultrasound diagnostics page.

First, a transducer or probe is placed on the skin. Then, conductive gel is applied topically and the sound waves go from the transducer through the conductor gel and into your body to create images.

Expect an ultrasound to take between 15-45 minutes depending on how complex the site needing imaging is.

An ultrasound uses sound waves and conductivity to create images.

An ultrasound is a painless and non-invasive way to get images of the body and they perform best looking at soft tissue. You also don’t need to hold still which makes them great for infants and small children. Ultrasound is a completely safe form of diagnostic scan, that’s why it’s used to scan pregnant women.

There are no side effects of an ultrasound scan itself. If the probe needs to be inserted, that might be uncomfortable and if you’re looking to diagnose existing pain, there might be some discomfort as the area is pressed on.

What can an ultrasound be used for?

Unlike other methods, an ultrasound is a dynamic scan which is especially important for scanning the musculoskeletal system, as we can move your joint while we scan to help get an accurate diagnosis. 

Ultrasounds can identify strains, sprains, arthritis and tears in the soft tissue. It can also image and track the progress of your baby’s development while in the womb.

To learn more about our ultrasound services or book an appointment, follow this link.

What can X-ray identify?

More about X-ray

An X-ray image uses electromagnetic radiation to take a picture of the inside of the body; usually bones. It is a quick and painless procedure and very effective at diagnosing a large number of conditions. 

They are usually performed by trained radiologists in the X-ray department of a hospital or clinic. You might have had an X-ray if you have broken a bone or at your dentist. 

The X-ray machine is pointed at the body part needing imaging and the technician will operate it from behind a screen, in the next room or using other protective equipment. You may be given PPE to wear during the imaging. The bulb with flash, taking a picture with radiation. You’ll need to hold still during imaging.

Getting an X-ray image just takes a second or two per image. Your technician might make a few from different angles to ensure clarity.

X-ray is an antiquated diagnostic technology that has been around for many years. This radiation bounces off bones and soft tissue to make pictures.

X-rays are great for looking at your bones to diagnose fractures, breaks, bone disease and other conditions. They are easy to do and pain-free.

There is a very small risk of developing cancer as a result of an x-ray.

X-rays can identify bone problems, tooth problems, scoliosis, breast cancer, heart issues, lung problems and bone tumours.

What can CT identify?

More about CT

A CT scan uses computer-controlled x-rays to make a more detailed picture of the inside of your body than standard x-rays can.

For this scan, you lie on a bed, usually facing upwards, as a ring passes over your body and rotates to take the images. You’ll need to hold still as the images are taken. And you might need to inject or receive contrast dye to help with image clarity.

The usual CT scan takes 10-20 minutes. You might need to alter your breathing and hold still during the scan.

A CT scan also uses x-rays but these are controlled by a computer to get a more complete picture of the body part being scanned.

CT scans give you high-quality images in a short amount of time without the claustrophobic feeling of a closed MRI.

As with x-rays, you will be exposed to tiny amounts of radiation which -over time with greater frequency- can cause cancer. Also, if you’re given a contrast agent, you’ll need to wait for some time after the scan to make sure there are no side effects from the substance and could experience an allergic reaction.

CT scans can monitor the size of tumours, inform other surgical procedures and diagnose bone damage, organ damage, cancer, stroke and blood vessel constriction.

To summarise

In general, a simple x-ray is all that is needed for most bone trauma and general injury. More complex bone and soft tissue conditions will need a CT scan or MRI. However, there are some soft tissue conditions that a CT scan will miss.

An MRI is the most comprehensive look at soft tissue available and with open MRIs like ours; there’s no associated claustrophobic reaction. Lastly, for some conditions, in those who cannot control their movement or for localised pain, an ultrasound might be recommended. 

You can discuss our diagnostic scan options with our customer service team on 0330 580 1153 or submit an enquiry below.

What can an MRI be used for?

An MRI scan is great for diagnosing some types of tumours (cancerous or benign), joint injuries, damaged ligaments or cartilage, other soft tissue injuries, spinal problems, brain injuries and bone infections. A full body screening MRI can help to find hidden medical conditions, you can read more about these from our interview with our clinical lead radiologist, Mr Qaiser Malik.

MRI Options

Single Part​

FROM £250

Two Part​

FROM £450

Full Body​

FROM £1,700

Get in Touch

Contact us today and we’ll call you back to discuss your next steps.

Frequent Questions

We have extremity and full body MRI scanners. Extremity scanners are specifically designed for the hands, wrists, elbows, feet, ankles and knees. Unlike with conventional MRI, our scanners are open rather than the traditional enclosed capsule. This coupled with very little noise and overall ergonomic design maximises patient comfort.  

Most MRI scans are requested on a non-urgent, consultant-led basis. This means you can end up waiting up to 18 weeks from the time of your NHS e-Referral Service appointment or when the hospital gets your referral letter. Then there is a further wait for your results which is typically 24 hours. 

The NHS looks after the vast majority of patients in the UK and there is a huge demand on services such as MRI, with the more urgent cases being given priority. You can, however, skip this queue if you opt to get a private MRI scan which you can pay for yourself.  

Yes. You simply need to fill in our enquiry form to book a private MRI scan appointment. However you will need to pay an upfront cost for our services.   

Yes. It’s also possible to book for someone else if you’re their carer. By simply answering a few questions about why you want the scan and some extra safety questions you can book someone in hassle free. 

No. It’s a very safe, non-invasive procedure. There have been a wide range of studies on the impact of radio waves and magnets on the human body and no risks have been identified. Unlike with an X-ray machine, radiation is not used so there is no risk of exposure to radiation during an MRI procedure. However, due to the use of the strong magnets, MRIs cannot be performed on patients with implanted pacemakers.  

Typically Your GP may suggest an MRI for soft tissue injuries as the MRI can scan the internal structure of muscles, bones, ligaments, organs, nerves, and joints, from any angle. MRIs are more versatile, and doctors use them for examining many medical conditions. However, x-rays are used more often for examining broken bones, and they can also help detect diseased tissue. Additionally, an MRI scan does not use radiation, instead using strong magnets and radio waves.   

If you’re experiencing knee pain, a knee MRI can look at the ligaments, muscles and tissues surrounding the knee to identify the cause of your knee pain within 15 to 45 minutes on average. This is because only your lower body needs to go into the MRI machine. 

A full body MRI is a five-part scan that looks at the brain, neck arteries, chest, abdomen and pelvis and it takes around 1 hour. All our scanners are open rather than the traditional enclosed capsule, with an ergonomic design to maximise patient comfort. 

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