MRI Stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging. MRI is a way of getting pictures of various parts of your body without the use of X-rays. Unlike X-rays and computed tomographic (CT) scans, which use radiation, a MRI uses powerful magnets and radio waves. A radio wave antenna is used to send signals to the body and then receive signals back.
These returning signals are converted into pictures by a computer attached to the scanner. Pictures of almost any part of your body can be obtained at almost any particular angle.
MRI is quite safe in the majority of patients. Certain patients may not be able to have an MRI. These include people who get nervous in small spaces (claustrophobic) and those with implanted medical devices such as aneurysm clips in the brain, heart pacemakers and cochlear (inner ear) implants.
Also, people with pieces of metal close to or in an important organ (such as the eye) may not be scanned. There are a few additional safety considerations and some exceptions based on individual circumstances.
This test may be used to diagnose or evaluate:
Combining MRIs with other imaging methods can often help the doctor make a more definitive diagnosis. MRI images taken after a special dye (contrast) is delivered into the body may provide additional information about the blood vessels. An abdominal MRI provides detailed pictures of the belly area from many different views.
It is often used to clarify findings from previous X-rays or CT scans.
A pad is placed on the patient’s abdomen to help make the pictures clearer. MRI can distinguish tumors from normal tissues and can help the doctor determine the tumor’s size, severity, and spread. This is called staging.
Advantages & Disadvantages
Advantages of MRI include diagnosing:
MRI also has disadvantages. These include:
Preparation for MRI Test
Before your MRI test, tell your health professional and the MRI technologist if you:
For an MRI of the abdomen, you may be asked not to eat or drink for several hours before the test.