All you wanted to know about MRI scan
Many people get worried if doctors ask them to take an MRI test, fearing complication in their conditions. But MRI scan can help to rule out suspected complications and makes way for non-surgical treatments.
Magnetic resonance imaging, the full form of MRI, is an imaging process that uses magnetic properties. This is an absolutely safe and painless(non-invasive) procedure that makes use of a large magnet, radio waves, and a computer to produce clear and detailed images of your body parts to check for a tumor or other abnormalities.
There can be full body imaging or imaging of the individual parts. The list includes:
- Brain and spinal cord
- Bones and joints
- Heart and blood vessels
- Internal organs - liver and bile ducts, kidneys, spleen, pancreas, uterus, ovaries, and prostate.
3D imaging can also be possible to make viewing from different angles.
MRI test procedure and options
MRI scanning is performed by a radiographer. The machine creates a low-level magnetic field inside it which influences the atoms of the patient’s body. Atoms in different types of tissues react in different ways. These reactions are sensed by the scanner and are decoded in a computer for visual representation. The computer is hooked to the scanner but kept in another room.
There are three types of MRI scan machines - traditional closed MRI, open MRI, and standing or sitting MRI.
A closed MRI machine is a large tube (with both ends open) inside which the patient has to lie on a table. The images produced are generally of high quality but it is important that the patient lies on the table very still.
An open MRI machine has everything the same as the closed type machine except that there is no tube. Instead, there is more open space. The open MRI machine is developed to allow more comfort to patients who are claustrophobic or obese. However, the image quality is slightly compromised.
In a standing or sitting type MRI machine provides the patient with the comfort of sitting or standing during the scan. However, the image quality may not be of very good.
MRI scan for brain and spinal cord
Brain and spinal cord are the two areas where MRI is used most frequently. MRI is superior to other imaging methods such as CT scan when it comes to detection of damages in the brain or spinal cord. The below conditions are generally diagnosed through MRI:
- Multiple sclerosis.
- Disorders of the eye and inner ear.
- Brain Injuries from trauma.
- Aneurysms of cerebral vessels.
- Spinal cord injuries.
MRI scan for heart and blood vessel abnormalities
The following vital information about your heart and blood vessels are found through the MRI scan.
- Current size and function of the heart’s chambers.
- The heart wall thickness and its movements.
- The amount of damage caused due to a heart attack or heart disease.
- The extent of inflammation or blockages in the blood vessels.
- Development of the conditions such as aortic aneurysms and dissections.
Things that should be known to the patient beforehand
- Depending on the condition an MRI test may last from 15 minutes to over an hour during when the patient shouldn’t make any movement in order to prevent blurring of an image.
- During the scan, there may be repetitive tapping sounds from the internal parts of the machine. That is normal. The patient will be provided with earplugs or music to help block the noise.
- During the scan, the patient may be asked to perform some simple tasks like tapping thumb against fingers or answering some questions to see which part of the brain controls them.