For certain conditions, the MRI is the dominant test to see what needs to be seen, even in comparison to others, such as the X-ray, the CT scan, or the ultrasound.
An MRI is a diagnostic tool utilized by doctors to gain a better perspective of what is going on internally with the injuries or conditions a patient is suffering from. MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging, which means that the test utilizes a strong magnetic field combined with radio waves in order to generate a picture of the desired area of the body on the inside.
MRIs are exceptionally useful in gaining a picture of the inside of soft tissues, which is very necessary to orthopedic surgeons who treat sports injuries and injuries from accidents on a frequent interval.
If you’re scheduled to visit an MRI imaging center, keep reading to learn how an MRI works.
What Might Your MRI Experience Be Like?
When a patient undergoes an MRI scan, they can expect to lie on a table that will move inward toward the equipment that contains the magnets so that the affected area can be scanned. The machine will create a magnetic field while the radio waves are simultaneously emitted.
The description of the scan can lead many to believe that they should feel some sort of sensation during the scan. Other than some extensively loud noises, the entire experience will be entirely painless.
For younger children and those who struggle with being detained in confined spaces, the difficulty can just be relaxing amidst the noise and tighter quarters for the duration of the scan. In these cases, sedation may be ordered to increase the patient’s comfort, as well as the accuracy and clarity of the scan images.
The patient can expect the scan to last anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour.
How Does an MRI Work?
The MRI machine will generate a strong magnetic field and radio waves in order to obtain the necessary pictures that the doctor needs to make their diagnoses. MRI scans rely on a complex process called precession where the combination of the magnetic field and the radio waves produce the expected image. These two variables leverage the fact that the human body is mostly made of water, so the application of magnetic fields to varying degrees allows for a picture to be formed.
Most Common Types of MRIs
There are several subtypes when it comes to MRI scans. Different types of scans are more useful in gaining information about different types of conditions and injuries.
- Diffusion MRIs are useful in diagnosing and evaluating strokes and tumor growth. They measure the manner and degree to which the water molecules in the body have diffused. Since strokes and tumors both constitute restricted diffusion, doctors will often utilize diffusion MRIs in their treatment and diagnosis.
- Functional MRIs are done in the same way as traditional “structural MRIs,” but they are used for a different purpose. Functional MRI imaging is used to see the way that the brain specifically is handling its typical functions by measuring the blood flow to the brain. This more specific MRI is useful both when treating injuries to the brain, as well as in degenerative conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease.
How Safe Are MRIs?
MRIs are very beneficial to patients because there is no exposure to radiation when the scan is performed. The magnetic component to the machine only poses a danger to those who have metal implements surgically implanted into their bodies, such as pacemakers.
In order for an MRI scan to be safe, it is important that any metal that is attached to the body of a patient be disclosed so that it doesn’t either heat up in response to the magnetic field, or worse, move in the process of the scan.
MRI scans are considered to be the most effective diagnostic tool at the disposal of orthopedic doctors and accident/sports-related injury doctors because of the clarity offered by their detailed images. The team of experts at AICA are trained to perform the scans in a thorough, yet efficient manner in order to best diagnose and monitor the conditions of our patients. If you are in need of state-of-the-art diagnostic imaging as a component of your treatment, trust the dedicated medical professionals at AICA Orthopedics.