What is an MRI Exam (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)?
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a noninvasive imaging procedure that produces detailed images without the use of X-rays or ionizing radiation. Instead, MRI captures internal images of the body’s structures and organs utilizing powerful and rapidly changing magnetic fields and radio wave pulses.
MRI produces a series of cross-sectional pictures that often provide different information about areas of the body than those images captured by X-ray, ultrasound, or a Computed Tomography (CT) scan. An MRI exam helps physicians detect and identify certain health conditions of their patients in earlier stages to provide the best opportunity for targeted treatment and recovery.
MRI provides good contrast between the different soft tissues of the body, which makes it especially useful in imaging the brain, muscles, the heart, and cancers. Areas of the body that may undergo an MRI scan include the head, chest, abdomen, vital organs, joints, spine or extremities such as hands, wrists, ankles, and feet.
MRI is commonly used to examine:
- Soft tissues and muscles
- Tendons and ligaments
- Organs of the chest and abdomen
- The heart, aorta, arteries and blood vessels
- The spine for disc herniations and spinal stenosis
- Shoulder, hip, knee, wrist, and ankle joints
- Abdomen and pelvic regions
- Breasts and reproductive systems
- Potential cancers or tumors and more…
MRI and radiation safety
MRI does not use ionizing radiation like X-rays. Instead, they use a very strong magnetic field and radio frequencies to produce images. The powerful magnet of an MRI machine will attract iron-containing objects that can be dangerously moved with sudden force, causing serious or even lethal injury.
You’ll be asked to remove all metallic items before entering the MRI trailer environment. To verify there are no health hazards or metal objects that could create a safety or imaging issue during your test, your HDI Technologist will have you complete an MRI safety questionnaire and carefully screen you prior to your exam.
All metallic items must be removed before your MRI including:
- Watches, jewelry and body piercing jewelry
- Hair accessories including hair pins and barrettes
- Makeup or nail polish containing metal particles
- Hearing aids, dentures, partial plates
- Keys, beepers, cell phones and mobile devices
- Safety pins, paperclips, picket knives and nail clippers
- Money clips, credit or bank cards with magnetic strips or chips
- Articles of clothing with metallic tags, threads, rivets, zippers or fasteners
There are objects that may interfere with the MRI image quality that may make you unable to receive an MRI, depending on the area being imaged.
Notify your HDI Technologist and doctor if you have the following:
Any kind of metallic implant anywhere in your body
- Plates, pins, screws, or metal mesh used for bone or joint repair
- Replacement joints or prosthesis
- Tattoos or tattooed eyeliner (may alter images and cause skin irritation)
- Bullet, shrapnel, or other metal fragments in the body
- Metallic foreign bodies within or near your eye (common in metal workers)
- Dental fillings, orthodontic braces or retainers
MRI scans cannot be performed on people with cardiac pacemakers, brain aneurysm clips, neurostimulators or metal inner ear prosthetics.
Women should always inform their physician and HDI Technologist prior to an MRI exam if they suspect they might be pregnant.