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Magnetic resonance imaging

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An MRI machine
A picture of a MRI scan of the human head.
An image of a human skull created using MRI

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), or nuclear magnetic resonance imaging (NMRI), are techniques that doctors use to give a visual representation of soft tissue (flesh) inside the body. Magnetic resonance uses nuclear magnetic resonance to generate these images.

To take an MRI image, the patient lies on a movable bed. The bed enters a strong magnetic field and then radio waves are applied for a short time in a different direction. This sudden shift causes certain atoms in the patient's body to make special signals. The MRI scanner detects those special signals. The MRI scanner then sends the signal information to a computer, and the computer creates an image of the inner body by using the signal information.

Pros and cons

The MRI is used to diagnose disorders of the body that cannot be seen by X-rays. The MRI is painless and has the advantage of avoiding the dangers X-ray radiation.

It is an expensive medical procedure, due to the high cost of the equipment. A person who has metallic objects or implants in the body cannot generally have an MRI. If the person is obese or claustrophobic they will not be able to go in. The machine can make kidney problems worse.

Which parts of the body MRI scans study

MRI scans can be used to study the brain, spinal cord, bones, joints, breasts, the heart and blood vessels.[1] It can also be used to look at other internal organs. MRI scans can be used to find blood clots as well.

An MRI scan can be used as an extremely accurate method of disease detection throughout the body.

Neurosurgeons use an MRI scan not only in defining brain anatomy but in evaluating the integrity of the spinal cord after an injury. An MRI scan can evaluate the structure of the heart and aorta, where it can detect aneurysms or tears.

It provides valuable information on glands and organs within the abdomen, and accurate information about the structure of the joints, soft tissues, and bones of the body. Often, surgery can be deferred or more accurately directed after knowing the results of an MRI scan.

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