Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) represents a breakthrough in medical diagnostics and research. Nearly 60 million investigations with MRI are performed every year worldwide. This imaging technique was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology in 2003. MRI has been used since the beginning of 1980s. MRI is primarily used in medical settings to produce high quality images of the inside of the human body. Magnetic field of radio waves energy is used to capture pictures of organs and structures inside the body. The MRI scan used magnetic and radio waves and therefore there is no exposure as in X rays or any other damaging forms of radiation. Since radiation is not used, the procedure can be repeated without problems.
MRI is used to examine the joints, spine and the soft parts of the human body such as liver, kidneys and spleen. An MRI scan is used in the diagnosis of Diverticulitis, irritable bowel syndrome, intestinal gas, chronic pain, liver cancer, pancreatic cancer, Cardiomyopathy, Devic's syndrome and headaches in children. It is used in to study specific conditions such as:
- Trauma to the brain, bleeding and swelling in the head
- Brain aneurysm
- Brain tumor
- Tumors or inflammation of the spine
- Trauma of the spinal cord
- Problems of vertebrae or intervertebral discs of the spine
- Tears and aneurysms in the structure of heart and aorta
- Information on glands and organs in the abdomen
- Structure of joints, soft tissues and bones of the body
- To direct surgery or to defer surgery.
During a MRI Scanning procedure, patient is made to lie in a closed area inside a magnetic field. This creates claustrophobic sensation in certain patients during the procedure. Normally a mild sedative is given prior to the MRI scan and this helps to alleviate the claustrophobic sensation. The new open MRI is open on three sides and this helps to alleviate the feeling of claustrophobia. The new open MRI scanner provides quality imaging with highest performance specifications with a powerful and stronger magnet. Scanning is also done much faster. It has the ability to detect diseases more accurately.
During a MRI scan, pictures of almost all the tissue in the body are taken. The tissue that has the least hydrogen atoms, such as the bones turns out dark. The tissues that have many hydrogen atoms, such as fatty tissue looks much brighter. The timing of the radio wave pulses is constantly changed to gain information about the different types of tissues present. An MRI scan is normally used as an extremely accurate method of disease detection and structural abnormalities throughout the body.
Patient with any metallic materials within the body must notify their physician prior to the MRI scan. This is because, metallic chips, materials, metal implants, surgical clips or foreign materials (artificial joints, metallic bone plates or prosthetic devices, etc) can significantly distort the images obtained by an MRI scanner. Patients with pacemakers, metal chips or clips in and around the eyeballs cannot be scanned by an MRI because of the risk that the magnet may move the metal in these areas. Patients with artificial heart valves, metallic ear implants, bullet fragments and chemotherapy or insulin pumps should not undergo MRI scanning.
MRI scan can cause a small risk to the fetus in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Therefore scans are not performed on pregnant women. The MRI machine produces loud thumping and humming noise when the procedure is performed. Therefore ear plugs are usually given to the patients to reduce the noise. MRI scans are a useful aid in the assessment of certain back conditions. MRI is an aid to detail studies of nerve root injuries like lumbar disc herniation and lumbar spinal stenosis. It is also extensively used in spinal disc and lumbar disc diseases and isthmic spondylolisthesis. It is also useful to rule out tumors and spinal infections.
Abdominal MRI is used to detect any abdominal growths. It is a non-invasive procedure that uses powerful magnets and radio waves to produce pictures of the inside of the abdomen. Abdominal MRI can distinguish tumors and other lesions from normal tissues. It also provides information to determine the size, extent and spread of abdominal tumors. For patients who cannot receive iodinated contrast dye and in whom angiography has to be avoided, abdominal MRI is used. Abdominal MRI reveals several of disorders that includes renal vein thrombosis, renal arterial obstruction, kidney enlargement, inflammation of the kidney, acute tubular necrosis, tissue damage in kidneys, pancreatic cancer, adrenal masses, mass of the gall bladder, obstruction in liver, enlarged spleen, distended gall bladder or bile duct, abscess, hemangiomas and other abnormal abdominal conditions.