MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) Overview

Magnetic resonance imaging produces images of the internal anatomy of the patients through the use of strong magnetic fields that cause certain nuclei to emit radio frequency waves. The technique was identified in 1971 by Dr. Lawrence Bennett and Dr. Irwin Weisman, then perfected by Dr. Peter Mansfield and Dr. Paul Lauterbur in the late 1970s. Doctors Mansfield and Lauterbur were later awarded the nobel prize for their research.

How Magnetic Resonance Imaging Works

When certain nuclei such as hydrogen are placed in a magnetic field, they will absorb and emit radio frequency radiation. Hydrogen is found in organic tissue abundantly in both water and fat. By activating these nuclei with powerful magnetic fields, the position of fat and water can be mapped inside a person. Additional information can be gathered by varying the pulse sequence of the magnetic field producing different levels of contrast between tissue types.

Uses of Magnetic Resonance Imaging in Medicine

MRI tests are primarily used for diagnostic purposes. They can very accurately identify diseases and tumors in the body. Doctors use them to examine the brain, spine, thoracic spine, and other organs, along with blood vessels, lymph nodes, and the musculoskeletal system. The MRI is an effective tool for spotting tumors. MRI tests are used prior to surgery to get more precise information that can reduce the impact of the surgery while making it more effective. MRI exams can also be used for pre-natal monitoring. Another common use of MRI is in sports medicine.

Potential Hazards of Magnetic Resonance Imaging

Because MRI examinations do not use ionizing radiation, they are considered safer than X-ray procedures in many circumstances. There are no side effects from the procedure itself, however there are some precautions. The powerful magnetic fields in an MRI machine can be dangerous to patients who have metal implants or who are wearing jewelry or metal items of any kind. Some patients may also experience claustrophobia or have difficulty lying still during the long procedure.

Crown Valley Imaging located in Orange County has two imaging centers in Mission Viejo and Newport Beach where you can have MRI exams performed by qualified technologists at both Newport Beach and Mission Viejo. Images are read and interpreted by Board Certified Neuroradiologists and Board Certified Musculoskeletal Radiologists and reports are generated within 24-48 business hours.