Magnetic Resonance Imaging, or what is most commonly know as MRI, is a noninvasive medical imaging technic that helps physicians get a better look at your body.
The MRI has come along way since Dr. Raymond V. Damadian first debut his invention in 1977. Then it took almost five hours to produce a single image. Now it takes only a few seconds. Starting out with just a handful, MRI's can now be found in just about every hospital in the nation.
An MRI uses magnetism, radio waves, and a computer to produce images of body structures. It is another way for doctors to help diagnose and treat medical problems. The detailed image that the MRI produces can detect tiny changes of structures within the body. It can show the difference between healthy and unhealthy tissue.
An MRI of the breast is used in conjunction with mammograms and ultrasounds to help detect the various stages of breast cancer and other breast abnormalities such as tumors and cysts.
MRI's can be used to study nerves, bones, ligaments, muscles and numerous other tissues in the body. The whole process of having a MRI done can take anywhere from a few minutes up to more then an hour.
The MRI machine looks like a tunnel that is open at both ends. The patient will lay flat on a movable table that will slide into the MRI. A trained technologist will monitor the process from another room but you can speak to them via a microphone in the MRI.
An MRI is painless and unlike an ex ray there is no risk of exposure to radiation.
Most patients feel no discomfort during an MRI but some find it hard to remain still for an extended period of time. The MRI machine does make a load banging noise while it is working and some find this to be unpleasant, the patient can always ask for earplugs to help muffle the sound. People suffering from claustrophobia feel nervous and anxious having to be closed in.
During the process you will need to be completely still as movement could cause the images to become distorted or fuzzy. It is also completely normal to feel a slight warmth in the area of the body that is being imaged.
During the MRI you maybe asked to preform some simple tasks like tapping your finger or answering some questions. This will help show which parts of your brain controls certain actions. The technologist may also ask the patient to hold their breath for a short period of time.
With most patients there is no risk associated with having an MRI performed. Before the MRI is performed you must remove any jewelery, watches or hairpins. No metal of any kind. Take off glasses, wigs and hearing aids.
The cost of an MRI can range from a few hundred dollars up into the thousands. Many insurance companies will pay at least part of the MRI cost if it is orders by the doctor as a medically necessary diagnostic tool.