Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is something you hope to never need, but are grateful to have when you do. MRI machines are an advancement in technology that has been a key tool in a doctor’s ability to diagnose and treat patients. There is quite a wide range of uses for an MRI, which is what will be expanded upon here.  

What It’s Made of

These incredible machines can come in many different sizes. At one point, they had a very tight space for patients, but because of the negative mental effect this had on the more claustrophobic patients, they are now much bigger. 

The scanner contains a tube that’s 24-inches in size with a patient table that leads the patient inside, a magnet, Gradient coils, a Radio Frequency coil, and a computer system. The experts at explained that these individual parts can be repaired or replaced if damage occurs. These machines are a spectacular product of modern technology, but their general make-up is quite simple. 

Primary Purpose

An MRI uses extremely powerful magnets to take pictures of the inside of a body. These pictures can help a doctor diagnose a disease or condition and assess injuries. It is a non-invasive procedure that causes patients no pain. An MRI scan produces brilliant images with contrast that allows medical professionals to examine blood vessels, soft tissue, ligaments, bones, joints, and even brain activity. 

Unlike an X-Ray or CT scan, the MRI does not use ionizing radiation for imaging. Because of this, the MRI scan is used by pediatric doctors for evaluating male and female reproductive systems such as the urinary tract, bladder, pelvis, and hips. 

Brain and Head MRI

One of the uses of the MRI is to examine brain activity and where the brain issues might be emerging. If you notice that sometimes your hands shake or lose control while you’re pouring a glass of water, or if you struggle to make sense of everyday language in conversation, then talk to your doctor about getting a functional MRI (fMRI). These types of scans are used for “brain mapping,” which is necessary for finding tumors or detecting epilepsy. 

Even when a person is resting, their brain is still highly active. The patterns seen in an fMRI during this resting state can supposedly reveal a lot about the webs of patterns that work together to create brain function. However, like all technologies, there are some flaws with this. The brain is a highly complex organ where new information is both proven and disproven every year. 

Here is a list of brain conditions that MRI can detect:

  • Hemorrhage 
  • Inflammation
  • Problems from a head injury
  • Problems with blood vessels
  • Infections 
  • Tumors
  • Multiple sclerosis 
  • Stroke
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Aneurysms 

Cardiac MRI

Cardiac MRI can scan an image of your heart that reveals the presence and severity of heart disease. A few of the heart problems Cardiac MRI can help a doctor treat are as follows:

  • Heart valve problems
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Cardiac tumors
  • Pericarditis
  • Problems after a heart attack

There aren’t many risks that come with Cardiac MRI, but the dye injected into patients to help with imaging contrast could cause an allergic reaction or harm those with kidney or liver disease. Let your doctor know if you’re pregnant, may become pregnant, or are breastfeeding, as the dye may pass through the breastmilk. An MRI machine can damage a pacemaker or implants. Metal inside or on your body can interfere with the MRI.

MRI of the Bones and Joints

An MRI of the bones and joints can detect problems in the joints or with the discs in the spine. They can also find cancer or bone infections. Additionally, a doctor can use an MRI scan to help treat neck and low back pain. Low back pain is one of the most common health issues around but can be easily treated by a medical professional with the help of an MRI. 

MRI of the Organs

MRIs can assist a doctor in diagnosing and treating problems with many of the body’s organs such as:

  • Chest and abdomen: heart, pancreas, liver, biliary tract, kidneys, spleen bowel, adrenal glands
  • Pelvic and reproductive organs
  • Lymph nodes
  • Blood vessels

MR examinations can be used to help doctors diagnose and treat tumors, diseases, and malformations with the aforementioned organs.  

Magnetic Resonance Imaging can be expensive and a little terrifying if you’re not a fan of closed-in spaces. With that being said, it’s an extremely useful tool and aids medical professionals in detecting life-threatening diseases, conditions, and injuries. With this, doctors can treat patients and improve the quality and longevity of their lives. Remember to always notify your doctor of any health conditions you have before agreeing to an MRI.