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Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) uses a strong magnetic field and radio frequency pulses to provide clear and detailed diagnostic images of internal body organs and tissues. MRI is a valuable tool for the diagnosis of a broad range of conditions, including, but not limited to:

  • Cancer
  • Stroke
  • Heart and vascular disease
  • Joint and musculoskeletal disorders

MRI allows evaluation of some bodily structures that may not be as visible with other diagnostic imaging methods. 

What are some common uses of MRI?

Imaging of the Musculoskeletal System. MRI is often used to study the knee, ankle, foot, shoulder, elbow, wrist, and hand. MRI is also a highly accurate method for evaluating soft tissue structures, such as tendons and ligaments, which can be seen in great detail with this method. Many subtle injuries are easily detected. In addition, MRI is used for the diagnosis of spinal problems, including disc herniation, spinal stenosis, and spinal tumors.

Imaging of the Head and Spine. MRI for neurological/brain imaging and spine studies provides outstanding image quality for diagnosis. The MRI software offers many mode and viewing options including the ability to reconstruct and rotate images to show soft tissue of the brain. MRA studies offer enhanced images of vascular structures.

Imaging for Cancer and Functional Disorders. Organs of the chest and abdomen, such as the liver, lungs, kidney and other abdominal organs, can be examined in great detail with MRI. This aids in the diagnosis and evaluation of tumors and functional disorders. Furthermore, because no radiation exposure is involved, MRI is often used for examination of the male and female reproductive systems.

What should I expect during this exam?

Depending on how many images are needed, the exam generally takes 30 to 45 minutes. Very detailed studies may take longer.

  • You will be asked to lie down on a sliding table and will be positioned comfortably.
  • The technologist will leave the room for your exam, but you will be able to communicate with them at any time using an intercom.
  • In certain circumstances, a friend or family member will be allowed to stay in the room with you during the exam.
  • You will be asked to remain still during the actual imaging process. However, between sequences, which last between two and fifteen minutes, slight movement is allowed.
  • Depending on the part of the body being examined, a contrast material may be used to enhance the visibility of certain tissues or blood vessels. The Technologist will place a small needle in your arm or hand vein and the contrast material will be injected.

What will I experience during an MRI?

  • MRI is a painless procedure.
  • Some claustrophobic patients may experience a "closed in" feeling. If this is a concern, please ask your physician for a sedative, prior to your exam.
  • You will hear loud tapping or thumping during the exam. Patients may choose either, music, earplugs, or both to block out the noise.
  • You may feel warmth in the area being examined. This is normal.

If a contrast injection is used, there may be some discomfort at the injection site. You may also feel a cool sensation at the site during injection.