Some frequently asked questions that we hope will answer the most likely questions you have about medical imaging in general. If you don't find the information you need, please feel free to contact us.

Do I need a doctor’s referral to have an x-ray, CT, MRI or ultrasound?

Yes! South Coast Radiology we require a referral from an authorised referrer before we can perform any medical imaging study. Authorised referrers are usually doctors or dentist, but chiropractors, osteopaths physiotherapists and podiatrists are authorised to send patients for certain examinations. However, no referral is required for 4D ultrasounds, because no Medicare benefit is paid.

Why choose South Coast Radiology for your medical imaging test?


Since 1967 when radiologist Dr David Jones opened his first practice at 125 Nerang Street, Southport, South Coast Radiology has provided quality care for patients, and prompt, accurate results for doctors referring patients. South Coast Radiology is owned and operated by its 22 partner radiologists, making the company Queensland’s largest independent medical imaging provider.

With ten practices conveniently located in the Gold Coast – Tweed Heads region, we provide personable, professional care that matches our comprehensive, dependable results. Find your nearest location.  

Will South Coast Radiology accept another radiology company’s referral?

Yes we accept any radiology referral. Unless the referral is specifically addressed to an individual doctor, for example Dear Dr Jones, South Coast Radiology will accept a referral for medical imaging at any practice. As not all examinations are performed at all locations, we've listed which examinations are performed at each location. Find your nearest location.

Do I need to make an appointment?

For general and dental x-rays you do not need to make an appointment, but will need to schedule an appointment for all other examinations such as CT, MRI, nuclear medicine, mammogram and ultrasound.

You can contact your nearest location to make an appointment or request an appointment online

How do I make an appointment?


If you have a South Coast Radiology referral, the practice locations, opening times and phone numbers are printed on the referral, along with the examinations available at each practice. Simply phone the practice that’s most convenient for you and one of our staff will schedule a time that suits you and provide further details about your examination, parking, directions and any costs. .

General and dental x-rays do not require an appointment.

Can I wait for my results?

One of our radiologists will interpret your imaging study and provide your doctor or health professional with a comprehensive report about the findings. You will need to return to the person who referred you to discuss your results. Processing and reporting of your images could take up to two hours. For your convenience we can generally deliver the images and report to your dentist, by lunchtime on the next working day.

If you require the results for a follow up appointment on the day of the scan, you can wait for the films and we will fax or email the results to your doctor. Some of our referring doctors prefer for their patients to wait for their films. Alternatively, you can collect the films at an alternative time, if you prefer that option.

Are x-rays safe?

X-ray images enable doctors to look inside the body to diagnose injury or illness. Different tissues within the body attenuate the beam of X-rays to different degrees. When clinically warranted, the benefits of having an X-ray test outweigh any harm from a small dose of radiation. During a person’s lifetime the effect of each radiation dose is cumulative and so doctors consider the benefit of each X-ray test beforehand. If you have any concerns about the amount of radiation you’ve been exposed you should discuss this with your doctor.

If you are pregnant or suspect you might be pregnant be sure to tell your doctor before having any x-ray testing. Also advice South Coast Radiology staff before your x-ray test. The risks to a development child is much great, especially during the first three months of pregnancy. If your doctor believes the benefits of the test outweigh any risk an x-ray can be performed when you are pregnant. If the area of intestate is not your abdomen or pelvis a lead gown cam be placed over your abdomen to reduce the risk to the foetus. For more information visit our patient safety section.

Are x-ray and MRI contrast agents safe?

Radiology contrast agents are among the safest pharmaceutical products available today. 

Radiology contrast agents permit visualisation of internal structure or organs that would not otherwise be demonstrable. Successive developments in pharmacology mean that today’s contrast agents are well tolerated. X-ray contrast is cleared from the system rapidly and naturally, usually with no adverse effects at all. Some people are allergic to iodine. Before a person is given any contrast agent he or she is asked a series of relevant questions to determine the likelihood of an adverse reaction.

Most contrast media reactions are minor and need no treatment. Moderate reactions are encountered rarely (about 1%) and severe reactions very rarely (about 0.1%), but all moderate and severe reactions require adequate treatment. Our staff are trained to promptly treat any adverse reactions, like any other anaphylactic reactions, with intramuscular adrenaline.

Most contrast agents are water-soluble solutions, but barium studies use a barium sulphate suspension to outline the intestine because of better coating properties. The choice of contrast agent is the radiologist’s responsibility. A few of the most common radiology examination s that use contrast agents are angiography, CT, IVP, CT, interventional tests, barium studies and MRI.

For more information visit our patient safety section.


Can I have MRI after a hip or knee replacement?

Although orthopaedic and dental implants are metal, they are not magnetic (ferrous). These include hip and knee replacements, plates, screws, and rods to treat limb fractures, and dental fillings. While non-ferrous surgical metal can distort an MRI image, the majority are safe within the strong magnetic field of an MRI machine.

Anyone having an MRI must answer a series of questions to determine the likelihood of any safety problems. The types of metal implants that could be affected by the strong magnetic forces include:

  • Pacemakers or heart valves
  • Metal implants in a patient's brain
  • Metal implants in a patient's eye or ears
  • Infusion catheters

You can discuss any concerns you have with the radiographer before the MRI test.

Does Medicare cover the cost of my test?

All x-rays, CT and dental x-rays are bulk-billed for all patients at these South Coast Radiology locations check :

  • Darling Downs Radiology
  • Mackay Radiology
  • Oxenford
  • Palm beach
  • Robina
  • Runaway Bay
  • Southport
  • The Women’s Imaging Centre, Southport
  • Tweed Heads
  • Varsity Lakes


Outpatient nuclear medicine examinations are bulk billed at all locations. All patients are advised of fees before their examination is performed.

If you hold a current Government Health Care or Pension Card then you will be bulk-billed for most examinations. If your examination does not attract a Medicare rebate and a fee is to be charged, our staff will inform you beforehand.

All DVA patients with Gold Card entitlements are billed directly to the Department of Veterans Affairs check.

If you have a doctor’s referral and a Medicare card, patients will receive a Medicare rebate for some of the cost. A number of our practices, for certain tests, can charge Medicare directly and there is nothing for you to pay. 

Private patients will receive a rebate from Medicare to help cover costs. Once the fee has been paid, the patient can then recover some of that cost back from a Medicare centre.

For more information visit our billing, payment and rebates section.

Will my health insurance cover any of the costs?

Australians with private health insurance will cover some of all of the costs if you have radiology tests while an inpatient in a private hospital. Medicare will cover 75% of the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) fee for associated medical costs, such as radiology tests.

South Coast Radiology has contract arrangements with a large number of private health funds, which ensures a ‘no gap’ policy for in-hospital patients. Check with your health fund prior to being admitted to hospital.

For all medical imaging services in a private hospital accident and emergency department prior to being admitted as an inpatient, normal outpatient fees apply. Currently, Australian private health insurers do not pay the gap between the Medicare rebate and what you pay any outpatient radiology tests.

Medicare Australia offers a safety net system to help patients if they need to pay for large amounts over and above the Medicare rebate. Contact Medicare on 132 011 for more information.

For more information visit our billing, payment and rebates section.

What happens if I’m not eligible for Medicare?

If you are not eligible for cover through Medicare you will be charged a fee for services, but you will be given a quote beforehand. If you have travel insurance, check your policy to see if your medical expenses, such as radiology tests, are covered by that insurance.

For more information visit our billing, payment and rebates section.