What Is MRI?
MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging. An MRI scan is the most advanced anatomical imaging of the human body. In contrast to the more common X-ray that uses radiation, MRI uses a strong, harmless magnetic field and radio waves to generate accurate images of the body that can be studied by the radiologist and your specialist doctor to reach an accurate diagnosis without invasive or potentially harmful consequences. Physicians can then view these images on their computer for further evaluation.
In terms of MRI imaging safety, the magnetic field and radiofrequency pulses used to create MRI images have shown no harmful effects after many years of everyday clinical use.
How Is MRI Performed?
MRI examinations are typically done on an outpatient basis and often can be completed in less than 45 minutes.
During check-in, you'll be asked to fill out a questionnaire to ensure that you have no implantable metallic devices in your body that could cause harm or be rendered inactive in the MRI room. Before the exam, you will be asked to change into a gown. The MRI technician will ask you to remove all metallic objects, which should not be taken into the MRI room. This of course includes watches, cell phones, wallets and credit cards, all of which can be damaged by the strong magnetic field in the room.
Patients are positioned on a movable exam table. A coil containing small components, which send and receive radio waves, will be placed around a portion of the body being examined. If the patient's particular procedure requires intravenous contrast material, the MRI technician will insert an IV line in the hand or arm. The exam table will be slowly moved into the MRI machine and the technician will go to an adjacent room where he/she can perform the exam while watching the patient through a large window. Two-way verbal and visual communication capability is maintained at all times. In addition, the patient is given headphones and has the option of listening to music throughout the procedure. If necessary, a family member or friend may accompany the patient as long as they can be cleared for metal.
Once the images are acquired, the technician will ask you to wait a short while as the technician checks image quality and burns a CD, if necessary, which will be given to you on your departure.
The Radiology Center of Lyndhurst uses two MRI units. One of these employs the newest technology, a high-field, powerful Siemens system, which produces high-resolution images in rapid time, and this is sometimes ordered by specialists such as neurologists, neurosurgeons and orthopedists.
The second is a Hitachi Airis II Open MRI, which utilizes the latest and most sophisticated software available. Its open configuration is an advantage in reducing claustrophobia. This provides the referring doctor with accurate and detailed images in the comfort of an open MRI without sacrificing quality. Even the largest and most claustrophobic patients can be accommodated with this particular technology.
The terms "closed" and "open" refer to the geometry of the magnets used in scanners.
Open MRI (Open Magnetic Resonance Imaging) uses the same, advanced diagnostic tools as traditional closed MRI. Both create detailed images of internal body structures without use of X-rays. The open MRI has a sandwich-like configuration with open sides, containing the patient in between.
The closed MRI configuration refers to a short, wide aperture tube, which was the original shape of most MRI scanners.