Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

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Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) provides remarkably detailed images of the body without the use of x-rays. This revolutionary diagnostic tool uses a large magnetic field, radio waves and a computer to scan the body and produce images.

MRI scans provide greater detail of body tissues and organs, than do conventional x-rays, which show bones and other hard substances. MRIs more accurately detect conditions involving fluid build-up, such as joint inflammation, infection, tumors and bleeding.

MRI scanners are used to examine the brain, spinal cord, abdomen, chest, bones and joints. The equipment enables the discovery of tumors that may not be visible on other types of examinations. MRI technology also allows many patients with skeletal conditions to avoid lengthy, invasive and very painful surgical procedures.

Prior to the scan, patients are positioned on a sliding table. The head, arms or legs may be secured with straps to prevent movement and the table then slides into the magnetic chamber. Inside the chamber patients feel air moving around and hear thumping sounds. The thumping indicates when the MRI scans are being taken. Patients should not feel any discomfort from the magnet or radio waves nor should they have any after effects from the examination.

Special precautions are taken before performing an MRI scan because of the strong magnetic field. MRI scans are not recommended for patients with pacemakers, blood vessel clips, implanted pumps, metal in the eyes or sockets, hearing implants, artificial limbs or other implanted metal devices. Patients are asked to remove any metal objects such as watches and jewelry. In addition to this, patients are asked to advise their doctor if they work around metal, or have recently had blood vessel surgery. An MRI should not be performed on patients who are pregnant. In some cases, patients are given a contrast solution, or mild sedative. Patient should inform their doctor of any allergies, kidney disease, or sickle cell anemia.

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