Clinical guidance for MRI referral

Aim of guidance

Guideline purpose

The majority of evidence for medical imaging focuses on lesion detection or diagnostic accuracy. There is sparse evidence regarding the impact of diagnostic imaging on health outcomes. Furthermore, there is emerging evidence of preventable harms and unnecessary interventions.1,2

GPs should be cautious in the decision to use MRI. Clinical history and physical examination are keys to advising patients about appropriate imaging. This guidance focuses on MRI as adjunct to patient management, not as a first-line diagnostic tool.

This guidance is designed to:

  • inform GPs of the indications for MRI referral under new Medicare arrangements
  • guide the appropriate use of MRI in the management process
  • provide key information for decision making at the point of care
  • help determine appropriate and evidence-based use of MRI in general practice
  • inform GPs of the benefits and limitations of MRI in the clinical context
  • educate on the contraindications and safety issues with MRI scanning
  • support GPs to inform patients of the potential negative health impacts.