Wednesday, December 28, 2011

What Is Magnetic Resonance Imaging For? by Kathryn Dawson

The term more commonly used in magnetic resonance imaging is an MRI scan. The multitude of television dramas set in hospitals mean that most people have at least heard of this procedure, although few could tell you how it works. Broadly speaking, an MRI scan is used for diagnosing abnormalities in the body. A radiologist will interpret the data which a doctor can then use to make a diagnosis of illness or disease affecting the body. It is one of the most common types of scan used in hospitals today as it is simple and very effective.

The way a magnetic image is taken is by first enveloping the part of the body being examined by a magnetic field. Through this intense field, radio waves that are being directed at the specific body part are sent. When the waves hit the body, the nuclei of the atoms within begin giving off an energy. This energy is detected by a computer which interprets the data into a picture format. The pictures and images displayed allow the radiologist to determine if there is anything wrong with the body as the energy patterns will be affected if there is and will be displayed in an unusual way. Often a functional MRI scan in particular will be used when carrying out this procedure. This works in exactly the same way as described above but the patient will be asked to carry out a few tasks while it is taking place. This won’t be complex puzzles but simple tasks such as talking or speaking. This allows the activity of the brain to be examined more thoroughly which helps greatly in the diagnosis of a multitude of illnesses.

An MRI scan is very effective at helping to detect health problems. Anything from broken bones to cancer can be sought out using this type of scan. If a doctor is looking to confirm a broken bone however they are more likely to use an X-Ray scan which is cheaper and easier to carry out. An MRI is more likely to be required in the event of a serious injury or head trauma. It is also common when looking to diagnose cancer as tumours can be spotted easily. Other conditions that an MRI is used for are to locate slipped discs and problems with the spine, abnormal tissue, blocked arteries and heart problems. They can also display internal bleeding and swelling in the brain. For this multitude of illnesses, all types of physician call upon the assistance of an MRI scan from time to time..cardiologists, neurosurgeons, doctors from all fields benefit from this form of scanning of their patients.

Not everyone is suitable for an MRI. Anyone with metallic plates or pins in their bodies may not be able to have the scan carried out, and those who have undergone chemotherapy may also be unsuitable. Artificial joints such as hips or knees may affect the results so this could pose a problem too. Most people however are able to have it. Although some don’t like the feeling of enclosure that is involved in an MRI, it is a completely pain free experience. There are no side effects either and it can be carried out on an outpatient basis.

Because the picture provided by magnetic resonance imaging (or MRI) is extremely clear it is a very useful tool for doctors wanting to diagnose patients. Clinical oncology, the study and treatment of cancer, is particularly reliant on these types of scan to make accurate diagnoses. Without medical imaging systems, doctors would have a much harder time diagnosing illnesses or indeed spotting serious problems such as internal bleeding following a major trauma. A scan (in one form or another) is often one of the first measures taken when a patient is admitted to hospital following a serious accident.