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What is an MRI and When is it Needed?

Friday, December 08, 2017By Nina Shapirshteyn

An MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) is a technique used to scan the human body and produce detailed images of internal organs. The scan operates by using radio waves and strong magnetic fields to produce detailed images of parts of the body that cannot be seen as well with an ultrasound, a CT scan, or an X-ray.

MRIs are often used to diagnose and detect sports injuries as the advanced technology allows doctors to examine the inside of muscles, tendons, joints, and ligaments. MRIs can also be useful for doctors to see inside internal body structures to diagnose spinal cord injuries, tumors, aneurysms, and even eye or inner ear problems. An MRI’s powerful imaging can also be used to measure brain structure and function in fine detail.

There are two types of MRIs – Diffusion MRI and Functional MRI. The Diffusion MRI measures how water molecules diffuse through body tissues. The diffusion of the water molecules will be disrupted for a stroke or a tumor and this enables the MRI scan to detect its presence in the body. This is a fairly new technology invented within the last 20 years. The other type of MRI, Functional MRI, works by imaging structural parts of the body and functional activity of the brain. The Functional MRI, also known as fMRI, measures changes in blood flow to different parts of the brain.

One of the biggest benefits of MRI scans is that is does not expose a patient to radiation as opposed to other imaging techniques such as X-rays and CT scans. However, MRIs do have some risks. MRIs use strong magnets which can heat up or move any metal implants in the body. This can be especially dangerous for patients with pacemakers, screws or rods, artificial joints, or artificial heart valves and can cause serious injury or even death.

During an MRI, a patient is told to lie very still on a table that slides into the imaging machine. The scan can last 30-60 minutes and it can be difficult to lie still that long but it is important for scanning accuracy. The machine will direct radio waves at the body and a strong magnetic field will be generated around the patient. The patient will not feel the radio waves or the magnetic field, but will hear a series of loud, clicking, beeping or thumping sounds which is the flipping of the magnetic fields. It is also possible that the patient will be injected with a liquid dye before the scan to help illuminate specific problem areas.

Alexander Law Group, LLP is always ready to answer questions and help our clients to understand the different aspects of injuries. Our goal is to make a difference for our clients and our community. If you or someone you know has been a victim of a traumatic brain injury or sports injury, call 888.777.1776 for a free, confidential, and personal consultation with one of our attorneys or contact us online.

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