MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging. Through the use of a large magnet, radio waves, and a computer, it is another way to look inside the body without taking an x-ray
MRI is so precise, the image taken is often the same as looking directly at the tissue (only in black and white). This clarity can lead to the early detection of disease and helps reduce the number of some diagnostic surgeries. Early detection is very valuable since it can lead to early treatment. Unlike X-rays, there are no known side effects to MRI.
MRI is best at seeing soft tissue. Therefore, it is very useful for brain and nervous disorders (stroke, traumatic injuries, fluid in the skull, tumors, multiple sclerosis, and spinal conditions or diseases). It is also beneficial for musculoskeletal problems (ligament, tendon and cartilage injuries) and subtle bone injuries and tumors. Newer applications include imaging of the abdominal and pelvic organs (liver, kidneys, pancreas, uterus and ovaries). MR can also evaluate the heart and blood vessels.
The body is made up tiny particles called atoms. Protons located inside the atoms continually spin at random. The magnetic field from the MRIs magnet makes the protons line up together and spin in the same direction. Then, a radio frequency signal is beamed into the magnetic field. This signal disrupts the protons, causing them to spin out of alignment. By then turning the signal off, the protons return to their aligned position and release energy. A receiver coil measures the energy released by the disrupted protons, and the time it took the protons to return to their aligned position. This data tells us about the type of tissue where the protons are located and its condition. Now, with this information gathered, a computer can construct an image on a monitor which can be recorded on film or magnetic tape for future reference.
At this time, there are no known significant side effects. There are, however, some patients who are not eligible for an MR study (for example, if you have a pacemaker).
Exam times vary depending on the area being examined and the complexity of the case, but generally run under one hour.
Usually within 24-48 hours for non-emergency exams.
Most MRI exams take 20-45 minutes and you should expect to hold still for certain periods during the exam so the technologist can get an accurate image
Open MRI’s are specifically designed for claustrophobic and barbaric patients. They have wide bores and open ends to ensure patient comfort during an MRI procedure.
Pacemakers, cochlear implants, piercings, and other metal implants can interfere with the MRI, so be sure to let your doctor know you have these beforehand