Whoever said that magnets are only useful for speakers and electronics probably never heard about MRI scans.
From time to time, even without experiencing any sign or symptom, it is imperative to go for a diagnostic check of your internal organs and what better means to do this than through magnetic imaging.
While other scans employ the mechanism of sound or UV or any other radioactive substances to capture the anatomical features of the body, MRI scanners use the combined effect of a magnetic force, radio waves and a computer to record and produce detailed images of the inside of the body.
What is an MRI scan?
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is the use of three synergistic apparatuses to get detailed images of the internal anatomy.
These implements are composed of a powerful magnet or powerful magnets, radio waves, and a computer that displays the image.
MRI is one of the few imaging modalities that can show a cross-sectional view of the human body.
How does an MRI scan setup look?
Most MRI scanners look like a large tube with a mobile table that can slide in and out depending on the use.
The round tube is often powered with pale to bright colored lightning to provide illumination during a scan.
These scan results could be any color, but they are mostly white with slight shades of blue or grey.
How does an MRI scanner work, and why is it so loud?
MRI machines have their sensors, and these sensors play a vital role in diagnosing and producing images of the part of the body being viewed. But how do these machines work?
It is important to know that compared to the Ultrasound machine which sometimes uses a probe to investigate some sensitive areas during an examination, an MRI scan is non-invasive.
Through its powerful magnets, it produces a strong magnetic current which causes substance called protons to synchronize with this current/field.
Vibrations from the magnetic current results in a lot of banging and clanging of the machine parts, and this is why MRI scans are loud and almost deafening to the ear.
The protons run through the body till the current is turned off. With the help of the sensors, energy released is detected and represented on the computer in the form of an image.
Sometimes, a contrast element (which is often a dye) is given via the vein into the body of the patient to help certain parts of the body show up in greater detail.
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What is an MRI scan used to diagnose?
Physicians will always recommend different kinds of scans depending on the diagnosis about to be made.
CT scans easily detect many bone defects while ultrasound scans also diagnose peculiar diseases.
Just like both of these scans, an MRI can also detect a wide range of diseases and body injuries including injuries to the heart and blood vessels, spinal cord, and the brain.
The results of an MRI scan can be used to help diagnose conditions like cancer, strokes, spinal cord compression, brain aneurysms, multiple sclerosis, bone tumors and several other internal conditions.
The scan result will show a cross sectional picture of the part of the body that needs to be viewed which is why there are different scans for different parts such as the leg, abdomen, pelvis and the list is endless.
Is There Any Reason I Shouldn't Get an MRI?
The reason why MRI is a top choice is partly because of the clarity of results and also because of safety.
It is a painless and safe procedure except for the noise and tiny space which claustrophobes may find uncomfortable.
However, patients with implants such as artificial limbs, pacemakers, and other metallic devices embedded in the body need to inform the radiographer prior to going under the scanner.
Also, minor reactions have been observed in victims that have tattoos due to the iron pigments present in most tattoo inks.
Metallic objects like watches, eyepatches, or bangles have to be removed before the scan.
Other than the above-listed minor risks, there is no short or long term side effect from having an MRI scan.
Can an MRI scan detect cancer?
An MRI scan is the best form of investigation for detecting different stages of cancer compared to CT scan and ultrasound scan as it can detect both cancerous and non-cancerous tumors.
The closest scans with similar or even better outcomes is the PET scan. Unfortunately, the PET scans exposes the body to high levels of radiation.
During and after treatment, MRI scans are also used to monitor the efficacy of a drug or a therapy, especially after surgery or radiation therapy.
Why would an MRI not be used for lung cancer detection?
We might have answered the question about MRI being very useful for detecting and observing cancerous tumors but do they give the same result for every part of the body where tumors can grow?
While Magnetic imaging is easy for all parts of the body, it is quite challenging to use them to detect tumors growing in the lungs due to the low resolution of magnetic resonance in areas of the chest.
Doctors, therefore, do not rely on the results from chest MRI examinations of the lungs, and they would instead advocate for a CT scan or a chest X-ray.
MRI may not detect cancer in the lungs, but it can detect other defects like inflammation and fibrosis.
How come MRI scans aren't enough to detect cancer?
MRI scans are good enough to detect cancer cells except if found in the chest area or lungs area.
This is because the dye that allows the images more visible cannot be injected into the lungs or inhaled for proper visibility, and also the lungs are always in motion when you breathe.
On the other hand, MRI scans are perfect for detecting cancers in other regions of the body, except this.
In the case of George, a transrectal ultrasound biopsy failed to detect a prostate disease despite all laboratory evidence that something unusual was going on.
Prompted by the unusual laboratory results, Georges doctor suggested an alternative imaging modality ? an MRI-guided prostate biopsy.
Thanks to that piece of advice, George is alive and well today as MRI showed a prostate cancer which was eventually removed.
Can you tell if a tumor is cancerous from an MRI?
An MRI scan can show that a cell is malignant when it is tuned to detect sugar molecules that are being shed from the outer membranes of cancerous cells.
How much does an MRI scan cost?
Depending on the area of the body to be screened, an MRI scan procedure can cost from hundreds to thousands of dollars.
How long does an MRI scan take?
The time it takes to complete an MRI scan takes is often dependent on several factors.
These factors can range from the experience of the technician, the area of the body to be scanned, and the number of images to be taken.
If all these factors are taken into consideration, a scan will typically take between 15-90 minutes.
Can an MRI scan make you tired?
Honestly, Magnetic resonance imaging can be tiring, especially if the patient is not familiar with the loud sounds or if they are required to hold their breaths at intervals.
Interestingly, it doesn't have anything to do with eating or drinking, unlike other scans which regulate the consumption of food or water.
To overcome this stress, you will usually be given an headphone with a background music to mask the noise.