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About the scan

MRI is an acronym for magnetic resonance imaging. The MRI scan makes use of radio waves, a large magnet, and a computer to produce detailed cross-sectional images of structures and organs within the body. With the MRI scan, researchers, scientists, and doctors can examine the interior of the human body with ease, and get detailed results.

An MRI scanner can be used in the following situations:

  • Spinal cord and brain anomalies
  • Cysts, tumors, and other anomalies in the body.
  • Screening of women for breast cancer
  • Abnormalities or injuries of the joints, such as the knee and the back.
  • Heart disorders
  • Liver problems and diseases affecting other organs in the abdomen
  • Evaluating pelvic pain in women. Common causes of pelvic pain include endometriosis and fibroids.
  • Evaluating uterine anomalies in women who may be infertile.

The list is inexhaustible. The use and scope of MRI technology increase daily.

How it works

Every MRI scanner has two magnets in it. These magnets are very powerful. The magnets in the MRI scanner are its most important parts. Our bodies are made up of molecules of water, which consist of oxygen and hydrogen atoms. Each atom has a proton at its center. This proton acts as a magnet and is extremely sensitive to magnetic fields.

The molecules of water in our bodies are arranged randomly, but once a person gets into the scanner, the first magnet will cause a unidirectional arrangement of the water molecules.The second magnetic field will be turned on and off in quick pulses, causing a change in the alignment of each hydrogen atom when switched on and a quick revert to its relaxed state when turned off.

A magnetic field is created by passing an electric current through gradient coils. This will make the coil to vibrate, creating the magnetic field. Even though the patient may not be sensitive to these changes, the scanner detects them easily, and together with a computer, can produce detailed images of the interior of your body for the radiologist.

What happens during an MRI scan?

Once you get into the scanning room, your doctor will assist you in the scanning table. Cushions or blankets will be provided to make you comfortable. You'll also be given headphones or earplugs to protect your ears from the scanner's loud noise. Headphones are usually provided to children, so they can listen to music and remain calm during the procedure.

Once in the scanner, the technologist will speak with you through the intercom to be sure that you are not uncomfortable. The patient must remain still during the procedure as movement will distort the images. The scanner usually makes loud noises while scan is in progress which is normal. Sometimes, you may be asked to hold your breath.

In some cases, a contrast material, will be injected through an intravenous (IV) line into a vein in your hand or arm. The contrast material enhances certain details.

Preparation before scan

Before the scan is even scheduled, one must not forget to highlight the following things:

  • If you think you are pregnant. The doctor may recommend an alternative exam.
  • If you are breastfeeding.
  • If you have problems with your kidney or liver

When the patient arrives at the hospital, the healthcare staff will ask him or her to take off their dressing and change into a gown. Because there are magnets in the MRI scanner, the patient mustn't take in metals into the scanner. All metal accessories, jewelry, and the likes will be removed. These materials interfere with the machine's activity. A person who has a metal substance inside his or her body is ineligible for an MRI scan. Metallic medical devices are not an exception, for example, pacemakers, aneurysm clips, or cochlear implants.

If you feel nervous or anxious when you are in an enclosed space, do well to inform your doctor. In most cases, a nervous or anxious patient can be given some medication before the MRI to ease the procedure.

Safety

Do not wear any metal objects into the scanner. Metals interfere with image creation and the entire function of the MRI scanner. Anyone who has metal objects on or in him or her is not eligible for an MRI scan.

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