Magnetic Resonance Imaging or MRI Scan is a widely used diagnostic procedure, which employs strong magnetic fields coupled with radio waves, to generate clear elaborate images of the internal organs and tissues in the human body. The functional technique behind MRI was first developed by distinguished British physicist Peter Mansfield and renowned American chemist Paul Lauterbur, for which they were jointly awarded the 2003 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Since then, MRI has revolutionized the field of medicine and healthcare, providing an advanced, non-invasive and painless method to probe the inner parts of the system and precisely determine any signs of disease.
What Are The Uses Of MRI Scan?
An MRI scan has a multitude of uses, including spotting tumours or cysts in different organs within the body, checking for irregularities in the brain and spinal cord, determining heart valve defects, liver problems and joint injuries. It is also extensively utilised in the diagnosis of various ailments, deciding on the appropriate treatment procedure depending on the severity of the illness and even assessing the efficacy of long-term treatments in chronic conditions such as cancer.
The Magnetic Resonance Imaging equipment and technology involved in an MRI scan is very expensive and offers several benefits such as:
- Detecting brain and spinal cord conditions of multiple sclerosis, stroke, brain tumour, spinal cord defects, eye and inner eye abnormalities
- Identifying heart valve faults, damage to cardiac vessels from a heart attack or cardiovascular disease (CVD), obstructions in the blood vessels
- Checking for hepatic maladies by scanning the liver and determining signs of kidney malfunction
- Examining reproductive organs of uterus, ovaries in women and prostate in men for any cysts, tumours or signs of illness
Before the procedure, the patient can generally consume a normal meal unless the doctor advises otherwise. After filling out some hospital forms about their medical history, the individual should remove all metallic objects from their body. These comprise accessories such as jewellery, watches, belts and hearing aids. The doctor or radiologist then provides a hospital gown for the patient to wear, which is loose-fitting so as to effectively scan all the internal organs.
The patient is made to lie flat on the scanning bed and slowly made to go under the MRI scanner which is a wide cylinder that is open on both sides. The patient can communicate with the doctor/radiologist throughout the scan via an intercom in case they are feeling uneasy. Once all necessary images are obtained, the patient is taken out of the scanning chamber and can resume all normal activities as usual. Depending upon the number of organs being scanned, an MRI scan usually takes between 15 minutes to 1 hour.
An MRI scan is a non-invasive procedure that does not cause any pain to the patient. Moreover, the radiations also do not induce any damage to cells and tissues in the body and hence the entire procedure is very safe for most individuals.
However, an MRI scan is not recommended for women during pregnancy and breastfeeding and also for heart patients with a pacemaker. Furthermore, if an individual suffers from claustrophobia which is the fear of confined spaces, then the doctor makes them go under the scanner with their feet first, to make them feel comfortable while obtaining images of their interior body tissues.
Once the required images are scanned and obtained from the MRI machine, the radiologist or doctor analyses the visuals to look for any defects in the internal organs of the brain, spinal cord, heart, liver, kidneys and other tissues.
The patient is then requested to consult with the doctor, who gives them a detailed explanation of the results of their MRI scan. Upon confirming the diagnosis of any ailment they may have, the doctor advises the individual on the pertinent treatment to aid in full recovery.