Tips & Tricks

How Does MRI Test Work and Who May Need It?

X-rays and CT scans are standard procedures to detect abnormalities in the internal body organs. However, they may not work at all times.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a technique in radiology that uses radio waves and magnetism to scan the body. A computer then produces images of the body structure for the doctor to analyse. The technique helps when other methods of testing are insufficient to give a confirmed diagnosis. 

The Working of an MRI Scanner 

The MRI scanner is shaped like a tube surrounded by a circular giant magnet. A movable bed is placed in it, and this is where the patient has to lie down. A strong magnetic field is created by the magnet, which aligns the hydrogen atom protons, and these are then exposed to the radio wave beam.

The various body protons are spun, producing a faint signal detected by the receiving end of the MRI scanner. The computer gets the information and then produces an image. These images and resolutions are highly detailed and can detect even small structural changes in the body.

Who May Need an MRI Scan?

The magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan is an accurate method to detect diseases within the body. 

MRI lets neurological doctors and surgeons, such as Dr Timothy Steel, see the tissues, bones, and organs in the body without doing surgery. This enables the doctor to diagnose any injury or disease. MRI scans are usually done when the CT-scan or X-ray fails to give information. The doctor also uses it to check if the treatment has been effective.

The MRI scans a specific part of your body. Here are the conditions when one may need to get a scan done.

MRI of the Spinal Cord and Brain

This helps diagnose:

  • Aneurysm 
  • Brain injury
  • Brain tumour
  • Stroke
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Inner eye problems
  • Functional MRI or fMRI measures the blood flow to certain brain parts to check the brain’s activity. This test is usually done to see the damage caused by Alzheimer’s disease or any brain injury.

MRI of the Blood Vessel and Heart

This is done to diagnose:

  • Damages caused by a heart attack
  • Swelling and blockage in blood vessels
  • Problems in the heart valve
  • Issues with the aorta
  • Tumour in the heart chamber
  • Pericarditis
  • Problems in the heart wall structure

MRI of the Joints and Bones

This is done to diagnose:

  • Bone infection
  • Arthritis
  • Tumours in joints and bones
  • Joint damage
  • Fractures
  • Herniated discs

MRI of the Breast

This is done to:

  • Screen women for breast cancer
  • See the progress of the tumour for those diagnosed with breast cancer
  • Check for cancer relapse
  • Detect to see if the implant has ruptured

MRI of Other Body Organs

MRI scans are also done to check for any problems in the:

  • Kidney
  • Liver
  • Pancreas
  • Spleen
  • Ovaries (women)
  • Prostate gland (men)

What Can You Expect During an MRI Scan? 

MRI scan is a painless technique that avoids the radiation exposure of an x-ray.

MRI scans do not cause any side effects. The scan detects structural abnormalities precisely and thus finds use in diagnosing several injuries and diseases. It is a convenient and time effective method to help you get a good and thorough diagnosis of your physical health conditions.  

Rachael is a 31 year old mum to 10 year old Luke and 5 year old Oscar. She lives in England and writes about family life, crafts, recipes, parenting wins(and fails), as well as travel, days out, fashion and living the frugal lifestyle.

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