Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), is a medical imaging technique used in radiology to investigate the anatomy and physiology of the body in both health and disease. MRI scanners use magnetic fields and radio waves to form images of the body. The technique is widely used in hospitals for medical diagnosis, staging of disease.
Why use MRI
The advantages of MRI include:
The ability to image without the use of ionizing radiation (x-ray) unlike CT scanning.
Images may be acquired in multiple planes (Axial, Sagittal, Coronal, or Oblique) without repositioning the patient. CT images have only relatively recently been able to be reconstructed in multiple planes with the same spatial resolution.
MRI images demonstrate superior soft tissue contrast than CT scans and plain films making it the ideal examination of the brain, spine, joints and other soft tissue body parts.
Some angiographic images can be obtained without the use of contrast material, unlike CT or conventional angiography.
Advanced techniques such as diffusion, spectroscopy and perfusion allow for specific tissue characterization rather than merely 'macroscopic' imaging.
Functional MRI allows visualization of both active parts of the brain during certain activities and understanding of the underlying networks.
There are two types of MRI machines: closed, open
Closed MRIs are the oldest type of MRI machines. During the procedure, the patient lies down on a table, which slides into a large tube. The patient is asked to lie very still during the test. The procedure usually lasts about 30-45 minutes.
Open MRI is built in a "C" shape configuration. The patient can slide in and out on the side and never be fully enclosed in the machine. Apart from these differences, the technique is performed in the same way as the closed MRI.
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