The average wait time for an MRI at the Ottawa Hospital is 277 days, according to the Ontario government's Wait Times website.

That wait is more than double the provincial wait time of 127 days and nearly 10 times the provincial target.

"I think it's a shame that we can't offer as timely service as we would like to," said Dr. William Miller of the Ottawa Hospital.

Miller says the Ottawa Hospital currently has two MRI scanners compared to nine scanners in Toronto's University Health Network and Mount Sinai Hospital.

David Price of the Queensway-Carleton Hospital says facilities in the region are no longer able to keep up with the demand for MRIs and that's a problem.

"One of the disturbing things is if the wait time grows longer, physicians try to do different tests that maybe aren't as good," said Price.

When Ottawa resident Joan McGarry started having trouble moving her legs, she became one of those people stuck on an MRI waiting list.

Although a neurologist at the Ottawa Hospital told her she needed to have an MRI as soon as possible, she was put on a list and told to wait.

"The bad news was it was going to be weeks or months before the MRI could take place," Joan's husband Brian McGarry told CTV News.

Soon, Joan's doctor and her husband decided she couldn't wait any longer and started making phone calls to other hospitals themselves.

An MRI cancellation at the Queensway-Carleton Hospital ended her wait and revealed she had a large benign tumor on her spine.

"As far as staff, nurses, doctors - they couldn't have done more," Brian told CTV News. He says it's the facilities that are the problem.

Price says patients who find themselves on long waiting lists for tests should follow the McGarry's lead and take matters into their own hands.

"If you're unhappy with the wait time that you were given for an appointment, ask your physician, 'is there any other centre that can do this sooner?'" he said.

Miller says the Ottawa Hospital hopes to have a third MRI machine running in November but that still won't meet the demand in the region.

MRI wait times vary widely at Ottawa hospitals and wait times at most of those hospitals are far from the provincial target.

  • Provincial target for MRI wait times: 28
  • Actual provincial wait time: 127 days

Wait times for MRI testing in the Capital:

  • Ottawa Hospital: 277 days
  • Hopital Montfort: 194 days
  • Queensway-Carleton Hospital: 78 days
  • Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario: 19 days

With a report from CTV's Joanne Schnurr