Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

What is MRI?MR_Brain

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a special diagnostic test that produces very clear, detailed pictures of internal organs and structures in your body. The test uses a powerful magnetic field, radio waves and a computer to create images in cross-section. While an X-ray is very good at showing bones, an MRI lets your health care provider see structures made of soft tissue such as ligaments and cartilage and organs such as your eyes, brain, and heart.

How is MRI Used?

Health care providers use MRI to diagnose problems in the brain and spinal cord, to see the size and location of tumors, and to examine joints and soft tissues. MRI is also helpful in diagnosing diseases and disorders of the eyes and ears. Injuries show up well on an MRI. For example, an MRI may show whether you have torn ligaments or torn cartilage in your knee and help your health care provider decide whether you need surgery. It is also useful for injuries involving the shoulder, back or neck.

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What Happens During MRI?

During an MRI exam, you be positioned on an examination table that slides in and out of the opening of the MRI machine. You may be required to change out of your clothes into a medical gown. Some exams will require you to receive an intravenous injection of a contrast dye. Due to the limited space in the MRI machine, patients may experience claustrophobia. However, the exam is generally painless. The imaging portion of your MRI exam appointment will take approximately 30 to 45 minutes.

While specific instructions will vary on a case-by-case basis, there are several general steps patients can take to prepare for their MRI exam.

  • Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing in case you are asked to wear a medical gown for your exam.
  • Remove all metallic objects, which are not allowed near an MRI machine, such as jewelry, watches, hearing aids, etc.

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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