Back to body parts
Foot and Ankle

Foot and Ankle

Find Imaging Centers
Medically reviewed for accuracy
3 minutes reading time

Foot and Ankle MRI


A foot and ankle MRI is a non-invasive imaging technique that provides detailed pictures of the structures within your foot and ankle. This powerful diagnostic tool helps identify and assess a variety of conditions, from torn tendons to ligament damage, giving your healthcare provider the information needed to plan effective treatment.

What Do You See In a Foot MRI?

Foot and ankle MRI can provide detailed images of the complex anatomy in this region, allowing for the diagnosis of a wide range of conditions. MRI is particularly effective at visualizing the soft tissues. Common findings include:

  • Soft Tissue Injuries: Sprains, tears, tendinitis, and soft tissue masses such as tumors, cysts, and abscesses.
  • Bone Injuries: Fractures, stress fractures, and bone marrow edema.
  • Joint Abnormalities: Arthritis, cartilage defects, and joint instability.

Symptoms that May Warrant a Foot and Ankle MRI

MRI is often recommended when there is persistent or unexplained pain, swelling, instability, or other concerning symptoms in the foot or ankle. Some key reasons for getting an MRI include:

  • Acute or Chronic Ankle Sprains: Injuries to the ligaments in the ankle that may not heal properly or continue to cause pain.
  • Persistent Foot/Ankle Pain or Instability: Ongoing discomfort or a feeling that the foot or ankle is not stable or giving way.
  • Unexplained Soft Tissue Masses or Swelling: Lumps, bumps, or swelling in the foot or ankle that do not have a clear cause.
  • Suspected Tendon or Ligament Tears: Potential injuries to the tendons or ligaments that might not be visible on X-rays.
  • Evaluation of Osteochondral Lesions: Damage to the cartilage and underlying bone in the joint that can cause pain and joint issues.

Ensure to discuss your symptoms with your own doctor first.

How to Read An MRI of The Foot?

Interpreting an MRI of the foot or ankle involves looking closely at the different parts of the foot and understanding what is normal and what might be a problem. Here are the key steps:

  1. Look at the Bones and Joints: Check for any swelling inside the bones (bone marrow edema), fractures, or other bone issues.
  2. Check the Ligaments and Tendons: See if the ligaments and tendons are intact or if there are any sprains or tears.
  3. Examine the Cartilage and Joint Spaces: Look for signs of arthritis or other joint problems by evaluating the cartilage and spaces in the joints.
  4. Identify Soft Tissue Masses: Look for any unusual lumps, cysts, or other structures in the soft tissues.
  5. Compare with Symptoms and History: Match what you see on the MRI with the patient’s symptoms and medical history to get a full picture of what might be wrong.

Can An MRI Fix Foot & Ankle Pain?

While MRI cannot directly "fix" foot and ankle pain, it is an invaluable tool for accurately diagnosing the underlying cause of the pain. Once the specific injury or condition is identified, appropriate treatment can be determined, which may include:

  • Conservative management (rest, immobilization, physical therapy)
  • Medication (anti-inflammatories, pain relievers)
  • Injections (corticosteroids, platelet-rich plasma)
  • Orthotics or bracing
  • Surgical intervention (ligament repair, joint replacement).

By guiding appropriate treatment, MRI may help resolve foot and ankle pain and restore function.

How Long Does A Foot & Ankle MRI Take?

A typical foot or ankle MRI scan takes 30-60 minutes to complete. The exact duration can vary depending on:

  • The specific body part being imaged (ankle vs. full foot)
  • The number of imaging sequences and planes required
  • Whether contrast material is administered
  • The patient's ability to remain still during the exam

Patients are advised to allow 1-2 hours for the entire MRI appointment, which includes time for preparation, the scan itself, and any necessary post-processing.

How Is a Foot MRI Performed?

During a foot or ankle MRI, the patient lies on a movable table that slides into the MRI machine. The technologist positions the foot/ankle within a specialized coil to optimize image quality. The patient must remain very still during the scan, which involves the machine generating strong magnetic fields and radio waves to create detailed images.

No radiation is used, and the procedure is painless, though some patients may experience mild discomfort or claustrophobia from being inside the enclosed MRI machine. Contrast material may be injected intravenously in certain cases to enhance visualization of specific structures.

Schedule your scan

MRI is a highly valuable diagnostic tool for evaluating injuries and conditions affecting the foot and ankle. By providing detailed, high-resolution images of the complex anatomy in this region, MRI can help identify the underlying cause of symptoms and guide appropriate treatment.

If you are experiencing persistent or unexplained foot or ankle pain, book your MRI scan with GetScanned, which is faster than the NHS.

Don't Wait for Relief – Book Your Fast and Private Foot & Ankle MRI with GetScanned Today!

Lorea content writter
Reviewed by
Dr. Sachin Shah
Clinical Lead
Book a GP consultation

Frequently asked questions

Do I need a GP-referral?

No prior GP-referral is required. Booking with us includes a GP phone consultation and referral. Shortly after booking you will be contacted by a GP from our team who will discuss your scan and provide a referral.

How long is an MRI scan?

MRI scans generally take a bit longer than other types of scans. Individual scans take 10-30 minutes depending on the body part being scanned, overall it can take anywhere from 15 minutes to 90 minutes. You do have to lay very still for an MRI and if there is movement the scan may need to be repeated which can add some additional time.

What’s included in my booking?

With your GetScanned booking, you will receive:

  • A pre-scan phone consultation with a member of our medical team.
  • A referral for the scan.
  • Scheduling of a private MRI scan at your preferred scanning centre.
  • Access to your written report by a radiologist.
  • Access to your scan images (online and downloadable).

How much is a private MRI scan?

A private MRI scan cost varies depending on the part of the body being scanned and the location the scan is performed. Generally, a private MRI scan in the UK starts at around £350, and includes the scheduling, scan itself and results.

What’s the difference between an open and closed MRI?

Closed MRI machines are the traditional and first type of MRI. They are used more frequently because they provide higher quality images, however they aren’t ideal for certain types of scan or when the patient has limited mobility. Open or wide-bore MRI machines don’t involve lying in a tight cylinder, instead they have wider openings with more space and are therefore considered better if you suffer from claustrophobia. A standing MRI or upright MRI is a new type of open MRI that allows the patient to be in various different positions, including weight bearing positions. If you would prefer an open MRI please filter by MRI type to find an open MRI near you, but please be aware it is only available at certain locations.

Still have questions?

Can't see an answer to your question? Our friendly customer care team are happy to help.

Contact Us
Get Scanned Today
Search scan center