A 30 second explanation of MRI
MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging (or Angiography in the case of an MRA). It is a very safe, powerful, and effective method of medical imaging. An MRI is a powerful magnet and radio transmitter that takes images of your internal organs or structures. It does this by interacting with your hydrogen atoms in a particular way. As you enter the MRI scanner the protons that make up the hydrogen in your body line up with the magnetic field of the scanner. Then radio waves are used to excite and then flip the protons. When the radio waves are turned off the protons flip back into alignment with the main magnetic field. When the protons flip back they produce tiny, detectable signals of their own that the scanner can interpret to make the images. All of this is painless and very safe.The images obtained in MRI are highly detailed and are very useful to doctors for making accurate diagnoses of many different conditions. MRI's are almost unparalleled in the imaging world for the amount of information and level of accuracy they can provide. An MRI can not only detect illnesses or injuries but can often provide a very detailed analysis of the region of interest as well.
**NEW: Check out our video section for a great explanation video about MRI's.
Isn't that just like a CT?
An MRI looks similar to a CT (or CAT) scanner although there are many differences that set the two apart. Many patients understandably confuse the two test in their minds. There are four primary differences between CT and MRI from a patient care stand point:
- There is NO IONIZING RADIATION (that's the dangerous kind) involved in an MRI scan. Only magnetism and radio waves are used to make the images in an MRI. It is therefore one of the SAFEST diagnostic tests that you can have.
- The test takes LONGER. Due to the incredibly large amount of detailed diagnostic information being obtained an MRI typically takes longer than a CT of the same body part. Most MRI's last between 30 to 45 minutes and generate anywhere from several hundred to several thousand images.
- An MRI is VERY LOUD! The generation of the magnetic field and the radio waves is a very noisy process. Hearing protection is required for an MRI. Yes, it's that loud. (CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD A SAMPLE )
- Most MRI machines are NARROWER AND LONGER than a CT.
NEW: Check out our video section for a great explanation video about MRI's.
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