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What is Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)?

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a computer-based diagnostic imaging procedure that uses a large magnetic field and radio waves to produce detailed images of the structures of the body to detect any abnormalities. It is particularly useful for imaging of the soft tissues which are not well visualized on X-rays.

Indications for Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

Magnetic resonance imaging helps to diagnose injury such as:

  • Trauma
  • Bone infections
  • Nerve damage

Preparation for Magnetic Resonance Imaging

Inform your doctor if you have any health conditions, if you are pregnant or if you have any metal implants or materials in your body. You may be advised against having the procedure.

Magnetic resonance imaging does not require much preparation:

  • Do not stop taking your medications unless instructed by your doctor.
  • Remove jewelry or other metal items prior to the procedure.
  • You will be instructed to wear loose-fitting clothes or change into a patient gown.

Procedure for Magnetic Resonance Imaging

The traditional MRI machine is a tunnel-shaped tube with a table that slides through it and both ends open.

  • You will be instructed to lie down on a sliding table that will move into the open tube.
  • If you have problems with claustrophobia, sedative medication may be administered to keep you calm during the procedure.
  • A contrast dye, usually gadolinium, may be injected to improve the visualization of certain structures.
  • The MRI machine produces a strong magnetic field and radio waves.
  • Protons in the water molecules of your body respond to the magnetic field and radio waves by realigning themselves and producing signals which are picked up by a detector and processed to create the images.
  • When contrast dye is injected, it helps visualize certain internal structures more clearly.
  • It is normal to hear loud tapping sounds during the scanning procedure.
  • The procedure may last from 15 minutes to 90 minutes depending on the part of the body being imaged.