by Garreth Myers

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or Nuclear magnetic resonance imaging (NMR) is a painless procedure, that utilizes a sturdy magnetic field to visualize the tissues and organs. It makes use of radiofrequency waves, not ionizing radiations and proves beneficial for the assessment of disease conditions, such as, cardiac diseases, joint malfunctions and cancer.

The apparatus comprises of a cylindrical magnet, which is closed. The patient is made to lie down inside, making him feel claustrophobic. Modern science has made it possible to design new compatible mri equipments, which are not closed completely, though the results lack clarity. Minute differences in tissue types, such as the white and gray matter are made out.

Each examination comprises of many sequences, each at around 15 minutes. Some small equipments termed, coils have the capacity to emit and receive radio waves and are hence used on the legs, arms and head. These enhance the image quality. Sometimes, a contrast is administered intravenously to attain more clarity of specific areas, before which saline is injected to safeguard from coagulation. The operating person or the radiologist occupies the room next to the study room and the procedure takes around an hour or long for completion.

The individual is made to lie down still, without movement, on a sliding table and has the facility to speak to the operator. A person is allowed to stay in the room, if the individual to be assessed is a child. A comprehensive study requires more than an hour. Movement between sequences are not restricted. After completion, the images are checked to assess the necessity of further imaging. A technologist or radiologist examines the image report and interprets the same. Slices are single images, that can be saved on a computer.

A closed feeling makes the examination, a painful one. The evaluation area is warm, after the procedure is complete. Any abnormal pain or feeling is immediately brought to the guidance of a radiologist. Plugging of ears, especially for the elderly is advised, as earsplitting noises are heard. Both the functions and organ evaluation are done. It is a rapid and noninvasive procedure and can be used as an alternative for x-rays. The risk of allergy, due to contrast ingestion is lesser and radiation exposure is prevented. Bone masked abnormalities are detected by this technique.

But, the presence of a magnetic field affects any embedded or implanted metals in the individual. This technique is avoided in pregnant women, less than 12 weeks. Open MRI scanners are the latest development for over weights and nervous people. More space is available on the table to lie down. The expertise behind both the techniques are the same.

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