Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

How Does MRI Work?
MR_Brain

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) creates detailed visual images of internal body parts using a powerful magnetic field. Radiofrequency signals travelling through the body during an MRI exam cause molecules to reverberate. These reverberations are detected by a powerful magnet and interpreted as visual representations of the body part being examined. These images can also be combined to show create a three-dimensional representation of the body part being studied.

MRI machines are basically large, cylinder-shaped magnets with an opening through their centers. Magnetic fields produced by magnets used in MRI are measured In Teslas (T). A 3T MRI produces a more powerful magnetic field, and more detailed images than a 1.5T MRI. However, 1.5T still generally produces more detailed images than X-ray or CT and is capable of meeting many common medical imaging needs.

Why is MRI Performed?

MRI can be used in cardiovascular imaging, abdominal imaging, musculoskeletal imaging, breast imaging, neuroimaging and cancer imaging.

MRI can be used on virtually all areas of the body, including the brain, spine, heart and blood vessels, bones and joints, kidneys, pancreas, prostate gland, testicles, uterus and ovaries, among other body parts. These exams can be performed for a variety of purposes, including:

  • To diagnose eye and ear disorders, aneurysms, stroke and multiple sclerosis with MRI of the head and/or brain.
  • To assess functionality of the heart and investigate potential cardiovascular problems.
  • To inspect problems involving bones, such as potential arthritis and inflammation.
  • To determine the growth rate of a tumor, whether a tumor has spread and to guide biopsy needles.
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What to Expect During an MRI Exam?

You will be positioned on an examination table affixed to an MRI scanner during the procedure. You may be asked to remove your clothing and to change into a medical gown. A contrast dye may be administered intravenously during the exam. Patients may experience claustrophobia within the confined space of the MRI machine, and some may be given sedatives to help. An MRI exam lasts approximately 30 to 45 minutes.

Your physician will give preparation instructions specific to your MRI exam. However, patients can follow several general steps to prepare for an MRI.

  • Dress in loose-fitting, comfortable clothing so that you may easily change into a medical gown if required.
  • Remove any accessories or jewelry containing metal, which are not allowed near an MRI scanner due to the magnetic field it produces.

What are my options?

MRI scanners come in different magnet field strengths measured in teslas or “T”, usually between 0.5T and 3.0T. The higher the T, the greater the image quality, but too much detail can be unwanted for certain parts of the anatomy. MRI scanners also come in varying sizes including open and wide-bore. We offer patients advanced MRI options, in more imaging centers than most other providers. Talk to your doctor to determine which MRI is best for you:

3T MRI uses one of the strongest magnets available to patients and referring physicians to produce medical images. A 3T MRI machine has a more powerful magnet than a 1.5T MRI machine. It is appropriate for detecting many musculoskeletal problems, especially in small joints. It is also useful for evaluating the breast, tiny abnormalities in the brain and spinal cord and some parts of the abdomen and pelvis.
This is considered the standard for state-of-the-art imaging and is ideal for abdomen and chest MRIs.
Same as the 1.5T MRI, but with an open design. Open MRI and Wide-Open MRI are useful for patients who tend to be claustrophobic or who are too large to fit into a closed MRI. Such patients no longer have to sacrifice image quality, or rely on sedatives, thanks to the combination of high strength magnets with more open designs. Certain open machines have tables that lower to wheelchair height, for greater patient comfort.
This scanner provides high image quality with no sacrifice to patient comfort.
Open MRI and Wide-Open MRI are useful for patients who tend to be claustrophobic or who are too large to fit into a closed MRI machine. Such patients no longer have to sacrifice image quality, or rely on sedatives, thanks to the combination of high strength magnets with more open designs. Certain open machines have tables that lower to wheelchair height, for greater patient comfort.
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