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WHAT IS AN MRI SCAN?

WHAT IS AN MRI SCAN?
July 7, 2015

There are a few reasons why you might need an MRI Scan…

MRI is the abbreviation for Magnetic Resonance Imaging. This procedure is used in hospitals to scan the patients and determine how severe certain injuries are. An MRI machine uses radio waves and a magnetic field to create in depth images of any part of the body.

An MRI Scan is currently one of the most sophisticated tools for diagnostics available to assist a referring clinician understand what the causes of particular health issues are.
In most instances, this scan is a safe and painless procedure that can provide detailed pictures of organs and other structures inside your body.

An MRI Scan can detect various conditions:

As an exceptionally accurate method of detecting disease in the body, this scan is mostly used after the initial testing fails to provide adequate information for confirmation of a patient’s diagnosis. Trauma to the brain can easily be seen as swelling or bleeding. Other irregularities often found can include problems like strokes, tumors, brain aneurysms, as well as inflammation or tumors of the spine.

Neurosurgeons almost always use an MRI scan to define brain anatomy, as well as evaluating the integrity of the spinal cord – especially after trauma. It is also used when considering problems which are associated with the intervertebral discs or vertebrae of the spine. This scan can accurately evaluate the intricate structure of the aorta and heart, and so, it can easily detect aneurysms or tears. Unfortunately, because it is expensive, this procedure is not the first line of imaging test used for these issues or in some cases of trauma. This means that patients have to undergo an additional test after the initial one that failed to provide the needed information, wasting valuable time in emergent cases.

Other uses of an MRI Scan:

It provides valuable information on glands and organs within the abdomen, and accurate information about the structure of the joints, soft tissues, and bones of the body. Often, surgery can be deferred or more accurately directed after knowing the results of the scan.

The Risks involved:

Though an MRI Scan is painless, this radiology technique has an advantage against X-ray machines, because it does not emit radiation. Apart from it being extremely loud when the scan is in progress, there and no other disadvantages or side effects in regards with this scan. There are so many benefits and accuracy is highest on that list.

Not Recommended for all:

There are, however, certain patients that cannot undergo this procedure, due to its magnetism; patients with metallic implants or plates in or on their bodies, like artificial joints or prosthetic devices. These items will distort the scan images. It can also be dangerous for patients with pacemakers, metal clips or chips in the eye area or metal implants, as these may be moved or negatively affected by the magnets in the scan. Same applies to patients with artificial heart valves, bullet fragments, metallic ear implants and insulin or chemotherapy pumps.

How it works:

An MRI scanner is essentially a magnetic tube. The patient has to lie very still inside of this tube which causes claustrophobia for some people, so if you are told that you need to have this scan done and you have a history of severe claustrophobia, be sure to tell your doctor and nurses. Sedatives could be administered to help ease this condition. There will always be staff nearby to monitor your vitals and progress in the scan. You will most probably also have a button that you can push at any time during the scan.

Enhanced MRI Scan

Enhanced MRI Scan

 

The Procedure:

• You will be asked to remove any and all metallic objects before they proceed.
• A sedative could be administered if necessary.
• Occasionally, they might have to inject a liquid intravenously for enhanced scans.
• You have to lie very still for the entire duration inside the magnetic tube.
• Headphones might be provided to drown out the noise.
• Normal breathing and a relaxed state is required from you.
• The MRI technologist will remain close by to monitor you.
• The duration of the scan depends on the size of the area being scanned; it can take anywhere from about 1 – 1.5 hours.

Obtaining the MRI Scans afterwards:

A specially enabled computer will generate the scan images which will then be transferred to a film to be analysed. The radiologist is specially trained to understand these films of the body and will generate a report on what he has interpreted which is then given to the practitioner who initially requested it. You will then be informed of the findings.

In the Future:

As advanced as it might seem, there are more advanced MRI Scanners being developed that are smaller and even portable. They will be extremely useful when trying to detect issues like tumors or infections in soft tissue found in extremities like feet, hands, knees and elbows. These amazing new technological advantages are currently being tested.

MRI Scans have revolutionized medical diagnostics since the first scan in July of 1977. Many people owe their lives to the incredible findings revealed on these scans. General screenings can also reveal hidden ailments and diseases such as cancer and other pulmonary problems which may only have been discovered when it is too late to be treated. If you ever have to undergo an MRI scan for any reason, be grateful that it exists.

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