What Is MRI?

Magnetic Resonance Imaging, or MRI, is a type of non-invasive imaging technology that uses powerful magnets to create detailed 3-D images of the body. An MRI uses powerful magnets to stimulate changes in the alignment of protons inside of the body, and then uses a pulse of radio frequency current to spin the protons back out of equilibrium. When the radio frequency current is turned off, advanced MRI sensors are able to detect the changes as the protons realign themselves once again. 

Often times, contrast agents are given to patients through an IV to help speed up the alignment of protons within the magnetic field. The faster the protons align, the brighter the final image appears.

What Is MRI Used For?

An MRI can be used for:

  • Soft body tissues: MRI’s are very well suited to image the soft tissues of the body — they can provide more clear images than X-rays or CT scans can of muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, and the spinal cord and brain.
  • Brain scans:  an MRI can distinguish between grey and white matter in the brain, and can be used to diagnose aneurysms and tumors. They are better than CT scans when it comes to diagnosing small strokes or brain atrophy.
  • Frequent or repeat scans: unlike CT scans or X-rays, MRI’s do not rely on radiation to create images. Because of this, they are often the scan of choice when frequent or repeat imaging is needed for diagnostics or therapeutics.

MRI machine used in medical imaging by Rock Creek Medical Imaging