Overview Of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Scans

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a diagnostic imaging test that allows doctors to see the different organs and structures inside an individual's body. In most cases, clear and detailed images can be obtained that reflect the structures inside the body. A magnetic resonance imaging scan does not cause a patient pain and is non-invasive. Patients will need to stay still during the scan and may be asked to perform specific breathing patterns. Magnetic resonance imaging scans usually take between fifteen minutes up to an hour and a half to complete. Once the scan is complete, the images are sent to a radiologist, a doctor who specializes in interpreting medical images. The radiologist will write up and sign a report that is then sent to the doctor who ordered the scan.

Magnetic resonance imaging is incredibly useful. These scans can help doctors diagnose a myriad of conditions, including brain tumors. The images can help with brain tumor treatment and allow doctors to better plan brain tumor surgery. These scans can also dictate the need for other treatments, such as chemotherapy for cancer. Of course, patients need to understand MRI scans first.

How The Scan Works

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The three main components that allow a magnetic resonance imaging machine to produce images of the organs and structures inside an individual's body are radio waves, a large magnet, and a computer. A patient having a magnetic resonance imaging scan lays still on a table that slides into a large, cylinder-shaped machine that contains considerable-sized magnets within it. When a patient is moved inside the machine, the water molecules in their body are temporarily realigned by the magnetic field created by the magnets. Radio waves are then used to induce faint signals from the realigned water atoms, which is what also produces the images in magnetic resonance imaging. 

The images are taken in a cross-sectional manner, similar to the slices that make up a loaf of bread. The magnetic resonance imaging machine's computer compiles all of these cross-sectional images into the detailed images doctors view. The computer can also produce three-dimensional images of the structures and organs inside an individual's body out of the cross-sectional images.

Keep reading to learn about when magnetic resonance imaging scans are used next.

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