Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

What Does MRI Mean?

MRI is an abbreviation for Magnetic Resonance Imaging

How Does MRI Work?

Together with a super conducting magnet (30,000 times stronger than the earth’s magnetic field) and radio wave pulses of energy, the MRI scanner can pick out a very small point inside the patient’s body and ask it essentially, “What type of tissue are you?” The MRI system goes through a patient’s body point by point building up a 2-D or 3-D map of tissue types. It then combines all of this information together to create 2-D images or 3-D models. Western Neurological’s MRI scanner is a short bore, large aperture 1.5 Tesla magnet capable of performing imaging of all areas of the body.

Why Would My Doctor Order an MRI?

MRI allows doctors to see images of your internal organs and structures in great detail from many angles. This gives them information more quickly, and in many cases more economically, than in past tests and exploratory procedures. MRI is ideal for but not limited to:

  • Diagnosing multiple sclerosis
  • Diagnosing infections in the brain, spine or joints
  • Visualizing torn ligaments, tendons and muscles in the wrist, shoulder, knee and ankles
  • Evaluating masses in the soft tissues of the body
  • Diagnosing tumors
  • Evaluating bone tumors, cysts, and bulging or herniated discs in the spine
  • Diagnosing strokes in their earliest stages
  • Evaluating blood vessels
  • Evaluating the function of the heart

Are There Things That Will Prevent Me From Being Scanned?

Some patients with metal implants cannot be safely scanned in the MR environment. People with pacemakers, aneurysm clips, inner ear and cochlear implants, and neurostimulators generally cannot be scanned. Anyone with surgical pins, shrapnel, plates, or other types of metal implants should notify the technologist. You will be required to provide a health history when you arrive, and a doctor will determine if it is safe for you to be scanned.

Why Do I Have to Remove All Metal?

The MRI suite can be a very dangerous place if strict precautions are not observed. Metal objects can become dangerous projectiles if they are taken into the scan room. For example, paperclips, pens, keys, scissors, pocket knives, watches and any other small object can be pulled out of pockets and off the body without warning. Credit and debit cards, hearing aids and anything else with magnetic encoding will be erased and ruined by most MRI systems.

Will a MRI Hurt?

No. Since MRI is “non-invasive”, the exam is essentially free of any discomfort or significant side effects. However, your doctor may utilize a contrast agent to better visualize a part of your body. In this case, you may receive a simple shot prior to or during the exam.

Does the Machine Use X-rays?

No. MRI uses a powerful magnet together with radiofrequency waves to generate images of your internal organs. There is no ionizing (X-ray) radiation.

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