How Does an MRI Work

September 21, 2017 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ Online Auction

How does an MRI work? Well, it is similar to the X-ray in some ways, but the technology is different in many ways. MRI stands for Medical Resonance Imaging. MRI scans capture images from inside the body when people have been injured or appear to be suffering from serious medical conditions including cancer and muscular/skeletal problems. These scans have been used commonly in the western medical community since the 1980s, but many people still don’t know how they work.

When a patient gets an MRI scan, a large and very strong magnet produces images from within their body using radio waves and magnetic fields measured in gauss units and teslas. The patient is positioned on a table that is sent into the center of the magnet, which looks like a tube, to be scanned. So much of the human body is made up of water, which contains molecules of hydrogen and oxygen, and the MRI scan can take those hydrogen molecules and change the atoms’ nuclei’s alignment then realign them back to their normal position using radio-frequency waves. During this process the atoms send out their own radio waves that are recorded as images.

Radiologists use MRI scans to create two-dimensional images from within the body that show body tissues and bones as dark, and everything else as lighter. This allows doctors to evaluate blood vessels, breasts, pelvic organs and organs of the chest and abdomen including the heart. It also allows doctors to diagnose and monitor serious medical conditions such as blockages or enlargements of blood vessels, breast cancer and implants, certain heart problems, cysts and solid tumors in the kidneys and other parts of the urinary tract, causes of pelvic pain in women, liver and intestinal diseases, suspected uterine congenital abnormalities in women undergoing evaluation for infertility, and tumors within the abdomen, chest, pelvis and reproductive organs.

MRI technology has changed the way doctors are able to evaluate and treat their patients. It is a specialized technology, requiring rigorous training, but fortunately many medical professionals are up to the task.

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