Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a technique that produces highly detailed pictures of the human body. MRI uses powerful magnetic fields and radiofrequency waves to generate exceptionally well-defined images that are used to visualize internal body structures. The MRI scanner creates a powerful magnetic field and, through a series of complex processes, generates radio signals that are detected by a computer that converts them into images. The magnets and radio waves do not seem to have any harmful side effects.
MR imaging is better than a scan (computerized axial tomography) when evaluating soft tissues. Although MRI is more costly and takes more time, picture quality is by far superior. Magnetic resonance imaging also enables us to see structures that cannot be adequately assessed with other imaging methods such as CT scans, ultrasound and standard radiography.
Magnetic resonance imaging is primarily used to diagnose diseases. The images provide such tremendous detail that they can show the difference between normal and diseased tissue. This examination is frequently used to provide pictures of the brain, spinal cord, soft tissue, joints, back, abdomen and pelvis.
The size of an MRI scanner is comparable to that of a midsize car. It looks like a large cylinder with a hole in the centre. The patient lies on a table that slides into the middle of the hole. Although the apparatus makes noise as it scans, it is not painful. It is very important to remain completely still for the duration of the examination which can last between 30 and 45 minutes.
Patients with metal implants (pacemakers, defibrillators, etc.) cannot undergo MRI scans. Intrauterine devices, metal orthopaedic implants and dental fillings do not generally pose a problem. Particular attention however, must be given to patch medication. Unless it is certain that the patch does not contain conductive material, persons with transdermal patches must remove them before the MRI test.
What to know before going for this test
Before going for a blood test, examination or other, it is always a good idea for you to have a complete list of all prescription or over the counter medications and/or natural products you may be taking. If you are unsure or have any questions, your pharmacist will be able provide you with additional information.
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The patient information leaflets are provided by Vigilance Santé Inc. This content is for information purposes only and does not in any manner whatsoever replace the opinion or advice of your health care professional. Always consult a health care professional before making a decision about your medication or treatment.