Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
AUR has several fellowship trained specialists who interpret thousands of MRI exams each year. MRI is extremely valuable in diagnosing a broad range of conditions in all parts of the body including vascular disease, stroke, joint and musculoskeletal disorders, the heart, and cancer.
MRI is unique in that it can create detailed images of blood vessels without the use of contrast material. This imaging modality is able to do this because unlike CT and X-Ray, MRI uses radio waves to produce the images the Radiologist interprets. Structures that consist of soft tissue like blood, organs, and the brain respond to radio waves differently and result in the ability to better assess certain abnormalities. The use of radio waves also eliminates the exposure to radiation commonly associated with CT and X-Ray, however, it creates a very strong magnetic field that will pull in ANY metal object in the room including, jewelry, metal plates, or even some medical devices.
Recently, MRI of the Breast was shown to be beneficial in patients at a high risk of developing breast cancer. This imaging procedure can provide information that cannot be assessed with mammography and ultrasound and should be discussed with your doctor to determine if you fit patient criteria for a MRI of the Breast.
Magnetic resonance imaging is becoming very important in the initial diagnosis and subsequent management of coronary heart disease. Specifically,
- MRI can help physicians to look closely at the structures and function of the heart and major vessels quickly and thoroughly, without the risks associated with traditional, more invasive procedures.
- Using MRI, physicians can examine the size and thickness of the chambers of the heart, and determine the extent of damage caused by a heart attack or progressive heart disease.
- An MRI examination can help the physician understand how well the heart is pumping,
- Whether the flow of blood is blocked in any chamber or major vessel
- Whether the heart muscles are damaged, or
- Whether the lining of the heart is swelling.
- MRI can also detect the buildup of plaque and blockages in the blood vessels, making it an invaluable tool for detecting and evaluating coronary artery disease.
- Showing the function of the heart muscles, valves and vessels.
More and more, MRI is being used as part of the traditional cardiac stress test to help physicians with earlier diagnosis and treatment of heart disease and to assess the patient’s recovery after treatment.
Because of the strong magnetic field used for MRI, it will pull on any iron-containing object in the body. MRI staff will ask whether you have:
- A heart pacemaker or implanted defibrillator, implanted port, infusion catheter (often referred to by brand names such as Port-o-cath, Infusaport or Lifeport), intrauterine device (IUD),
- Any metal plates, pins, screws or surgical staples in your body.
- A bullet or shrapnel in your body, or ever worked with metal. If there is any question of metal fragments, you may be asked to have an x-ray that will detect any metal objects.
- Any drug allergies and whether you have undergone any surgery in the past.
MRI causes no pain, but some patients find it uncomfortable to remain still during the examination. You may hear a loud “knocking” noise during the exam, which is normal. You may bring or request earplugs. If you are pregnant, think you may be pregnant, or are breast feeding, inform the technologist before your procedure begins.
IF YOU HAVE EVER BEEN DIAGNOSISED WITH RENAL FAILURE, INFORM THE TECHNOLGOIST BEFORE THE TEST BEGINS.
For the most up to date information, visit www.radiologyinfo.org, a website dedicated to radiology information from the patient perspective.