What Is an MRI and How Does It Work?

We all need to have our bodies examined to ensure we remain healthy and any health issues are dealt with promptly and efficiently. One examination tool doctors use is magnetic resonance imaging or MRI. This is a very common imaging technique that is used by a plethora of health providers.

What Is An MRI?

Magnetic resonance imaging or MRI is a noninvasive method of seeing your body’s organs, tissues, and skeletal system. It produces detailed images of the inside of your body using strong magnetic fields and radio waves.
Its invention in the 1970s was considered a breakthrough in the medical field. It transformed the way doctors diagnose diseases, conditions, and injuries as its noninvasive method is considered safer than CT scans and X-rays. Compared to the latter two, MRIs do not involve radiation. Because of this, it’s a preferred imaging technology by many health providers and patients.

How Does It Work?

MRIs use large tube-shaped magnets. You lay on a movable table which is pushed through the tube to begin the test.
The MRI then creates a strong magnetic field around you and directs computer-generated radio waves to your body. The field temporarily rearranges the water molecules in the body. The radio waves cause these atoms to create faint signals that are used to produce cross-sectional images of your organs, tissues, or bones.
Throughout the process, you may hear repetitive tapping, thumping, and other noises. If it is irritating, you may ask for earplugs or music to help reduce the noise. The procedure is painless, and you will not feel the magnetic field or radio waves in any way.
In some cases, a contrast dye, often gadolinium, may be administered through an IV line to enhance the images. You may be asked to move parts of your body to highlight the regions of your brain that control these actions.
An MRI procedure can take 30 minutes to an hour to complete. You must be still, unless otherwise instructed, to avoid blurring the images.
After the test, a radiologist will interpret and analyze the images from your scan and report the results to the health provider who requested the MRI. After the MRI, your doctor will discuss findings and next steps with you.
MRIs are harmless to use on almost everyone. However, its powerful magnets are a safety hazard for those who have a presence of metal in their bodies. Examples are metallic joint prostheses, artificial heart valves, pacemakers, or implanted nerve stimulators, among others. Always consult with your doctor before undergoing any procedure.

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