Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a type of imaging that uses magnetic fields and radio waves to generate images of the body. MRI has become a very valuable diagnostic tool detecting everything from cancer, heart and vascular disease, strokes, and disorders of the joints and musculoskeletal system. Of equal significance is the ability for physicians to avoid unnecessary surgery and more invasive diagnostic procedures.
MRI technology produces extremely detailed images of body tissue, organs and bones without the need for radiation. Electromagnetic energy is released when exposing a patient to radio waves in a strong magnetic field which is then measured and analyzed by a computer producing two and three-dimensional images.
The MRI scanner creates a strong magnetic field through the body, and then it sends radio waves into the body and assesses the response sent back from the different tissues. Under the influence of the magnetic field, different tissues send back different responses to the radio waves. Also, certain diseased or injured tissues send responses that are different from healthy ones. A computer in the scanner processes the different responses, and where they came from, into images of the body. These are displayed as slices, like slices through an orange or a loaf of bread. The images are sent to the radiologist for interpretation.
As part of the preparation for the exam, you will be asked if you have any items that can cause some restrictions when having an MRI. These can be metal implants such as pain pumps, metal clips surgically implanted to control aneurysm bleeding, pacemakers to control your heartbeat, or cochlear implants for your hearing. If you have any of these items, please inform the MR scheduling staff when you make the appointment. When you arrive at the imaging center you will again be asked if you have these implants.
We will also need to know if you are pregnant. Although it is safe to scan patients that are pregnant, it is important that we know so we may inform you of the latest literature.
The length of the exam varies, but most exams can be completed in 30 minutes. If you have multiple exams, each exam takes approximately 30 minutes.
After your exam, the radiologist will review your images and a report will be sent directly to your physician. Reports are available within 24 to 72 hours.