MRI scan facts

MRI scanning uses magnetism, radio waves, and a computer to produce images of body structures. MRI scanning is painless and does not involve x-ray radiation. Patients with heart pacemakers, metal implants, or metal chips or clips in or around the eyes cannot be scanned with MRI because of the effect of the magnet. Claustrophobic sensation can occur with MRI scanning.

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What is an MRI scan?
An MRI (or magnetic resonance imaging) scan is a radiology technique that uses magnetism, radio waves, and a computer to produce images of body structures. The MRI scanner is a tube surrounded by a giant circular magnet. The patient is placed on a moveable bed that is inserted into the magnet. The magnet creates a strong magnetic field that aligns the protons of hydrogen atoms, which are then exposed to a beam of radio waves. This spins the various protons of the body, and they produce a faint signal that is detected by the receiver portion of the MRI scanner. The receiver information is processed by a computer, and an image is produced. The image and resolution produced by MRI is quite detailed and can detect tiny changes of structures within the body. For some procedures, contrast agents, such as gadolinium, are used to increase the accuracy of the images.

When are MRI scans used?
An MRI scan can be used as an extremely accurate method of disease detection throughout the body and is most often used after

etc. tumors of the brain. MRI scans are not the first line of imaging test for these issues or in cases of trauma. Other abnormalities often found include brain aneurysms. In the head. It is also used when considering problems associated with the vertebrae or intervertebral discs of the spine. The benefits of an MRI scan relate to its precise accuracy in detecting structural abnormalities of the body.the other testing fails to provide sufficient information to confirm a patient's diagnosis. as well as tumors or inflammation of the spine. There are no known side effects of an MRI scan. Often. An MRI scan can evaluate the structure of the heart and aorta. or prosthetic devices. or foreign material (artificial joints. Patients who have any metallic materials within the body must notify their physician prior to the examination or inform the MRI staff. or metal chips or clips in . surgery can be deferred or more accurately directed after knowing the results of an MRI scan.) can significantly distort the images obtained by the MRI scanner. materials. and accurate information about the structure of the joints. trauma to the brain can be seen as bleeding or swelling. metallic bone plates. Neurosurgeons use an MRI scan not only in defining brain anatomy but in evaluating the integrity of the spinal cord after trauma. What are the risks of an MRI scan? An MRI scan is a painless radiology technique that has the advantage of avoiding x-ray radiation exposure. where it can detect aneurysms or tears. It provides valuable information on glands and organs within the abdomen. surgical clips. metal implants. Metallic chips. Patients who have heart pacemakers. stroke. soft tissues. and bones of the body.

A mild sedative can be given prior to the MRI scan to help alleviate this feeling. How does a patient prepare for an MRI scan and how is it performed? All metallic objects on the body are removed prior to obtaining an MRI scan. Therefore.or around the eyeballs cannot be scanned with an MRI because of the risk that the magnet may move the metal in these areas. Relaxation is important during the procedure and patients are asked to breathe normally. patients require injections of liquid intravenously to enhance the images which are obtained. patients will be given a sedative medication to decrease anxiety and relax the patient during the MRI scan. patient lies in a closed area inside the magnetic tube. Some patients can experience a claustrophobic sensation during the procedure. MRI scanning requires that the patient lie still for best accuracy. During the MRI scan. patients with artificial heart valves. as well as the radiology staff. and chemotherapy or insulin pumps should not have MRI scanning. repetitive clicking noises which occur during the test as the scanning proceeds. bullet fragments. Furthermore. Similarly. metallic ear implants. Patients lie within a closed environment inside the magnetic machine. There are loud. It is customary that the MRI staff will be nearby during MRI scan. Interaction with the MRI technologist is maintained throughout the test. patients with any history of claustrophobia should relate this to the practitioner who is requesting the test. .The MRI scanning time depends on the exact area of the body studied. there is usually a means of communication with the staff (such as a buzzer held by the patient) which can be used for contact if the patient cannot tolerate the scan. but ranges from half an hour to an hour and a half. Occasionally. Occasionally.

These images can be transferred to film (hard copy). Future Scientists are developing newer MRI scanners that are smaller.How does a patient obtain the results of the MRI scan? After the MRI scanning is completed. feet. A radiologist is a physician who is specially trainedto interpret images of the . The interpretation is transmitted in the form of a report to the practitioner whorequested the MRI scan. elbows. These new scanners apparently can be most useful in detecting infections and tumors of the soft tissues of the hands. The application of these scanners to medical practice is now being tested.medicinenet. References: http://www. The practitioner can then discuss theresults with the patient and/or family. and knees. the computergenerates visual images of the area of the body that was scanned. portable devices.