10 Magnetic Resonance Imaging Uses

Magnetic Resonance Imaging

Magnetic Resonance Imaging or MRI scan makes use of a large magnet and radio waves to get a detailed picture of the body organs of a living being. An MRI scanner machine is shaped like a tunnel that consists of a movable table on which the patient is laid. The MRI scan is a painless procedure and does not require any invasion. Raymond Damadian created the world’s first full-body MRI scanner. He nicknamed it the indomitable. The radiations of an MRI scan are not harmful. An MRI scan typically lasts for 30 minutes to 2 hours.

Uses of Magnetic Resonance Imaging

1. Detecting Tumors

An MRI scan is mostly used for detecting tumours. Brain MRI image segmentation is the technique that helps to get a detailed and cross-sectional view of the brain. Thereby, highlighting the part of the brain that contains the tumour. As compared to computed tomography or CT-scan or Positron Emission Tomography or PET-scan, magnetic resonance imaging or MRI-scan is more efficient in detecting tumours.

Detecting Tumors

MRI scan of a brain

2. Examine Torn Ligaments

If a person encounters a knee injury, he/she is mostly advised to undergo an x-ray and an MRI scan. The MRI scan helps the doctor get a highly detailed picture of the soft tissues including ligaments and tendons; whereas, the x-ray is only able to display the picture of the bones. Hence, it is not possible to locate the torn ligaments and tissues with the help of an x-ray.

Examine Torn Ligaments

MRI scan of a torn ligament

3. Analysing Brain and Spinal Cord

An MRI scan is used to analyse the anomalies of the brain and the spinal cord. It is typically used to locate vascular malformations i.e., the abnormalities of blood vessels present in the brain, spinal cord, or in other body parts. It can help the doctors assess various brain disorders such as a stroke, coma, head injury, brain infection, Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, etc. MRI scan is also used to locate the part of the brain that is responsible for a certain function. It also helps the doctors to plan surgery on the spine and for herniation and degradation of the discs of the spinal cord.

Analysing Brain and Spinal Cord

A. MRI scan of Brain B. MRI scan of Spinal Cord

4. Locate Lumps in Breasts

An MRI scan is specifically useful in examining the full body of the patient. This helps the doctors to locate the cysts and lumps present in a person’s body and also enables the evaluation and diagnosis of breast cancer in its early stages. MRI scan is able to locate small breast lesions that often get missed by mammography. Also, in case the breast tissues are dense in nature, MRI scans are preferred over mammography to locate cysts, lumps, and lesions.

Locate Lumps in breasts

MRI scan highlighting lumps in the breast

5. Diagnosing Heart Problems

Cardiac MRIs are used to detect medical problems related to a person’s heart. It helps the doctors and medical professionals to evaluate the anatomy and current state of the heart chambers and valves. It is also helpful in diagnosing tumours, infections, and inflammatory conditions of the arteries and veins. It also helps to monitor and evaluate the progression of certain cardiovascular disorders over time. Coronary artery diseases such as limited blood flow to the heart muscle are also detectable with the help of cardiac MRI scans.

Cardiac magnetic resonance imaging - Wikipedia

6. Evaluating Pelvic Pain in Women

The MRI scan of the pelvic region helps the doctors to get a detailed picture of the bones, tissues, organs, and blood vessels present in that particular area. It helps the doctors to identify the potential problems present in the pelvic region. Such a diagnosis is not possible through an X-ray scan. It helps to evaluate the reason for unexplained chronic pelvic pain and helps to identify the rate of spread of cancer in the body. The pelvic region is one of the most tender parts of one’s body. Hence, an MRI scan is preferred in the detection of problems related to the pelvic region. This is because the radiations used by the MRI scan are non-ionised and harmless. It also helps the doctors to investigate the reason for infertility in females and for irregular vaginal bleeding. In the case of men, the MRI scan helps the doctors to examine the undescended testicle and to look for lumps in the scrotum or testicles.

Evaluating Pelvic Pain in Women

MRI scan of the pelvic region

7. Determining the Nature of Injury in Joints

MRI scans are useful to get a clear image of the complex body parts that consist of numerous small structures such as the wrist and hand. The pathologic conditions including occult fractures, osteonecrosis, ligamentous and tendon injuries, and entrapment neuropathies, etc. can also be diagnosed with the help of MRI scans. X-rays are not able to properly display the image of conditions like ligament tears, flexor and extensor tendon injuries, etc.

Determining the nature of injury in joints

8. Detecting Liver Diseases

MRI scans are helpful in detecting liver disorders, such as hepatitis, hemochromatosis, and fatty liver disease, etc. An MRI scan also displays the blood flow thereby, providing precise information about the blood vessel disorders such as blockage, etc. The medical personnel is able to have a clear view of the tumour present in the liver with the help of MRI scans. Also, the doctors are able to keep a track of the spread of cancer to the other body parts with the help of regular MRI scans.

Detecting liver diseases

9. Locating Abnormalities in Abdominal Organs

The MRI scan helps the doctors to differentiate between the normal and abnormal soft tissues with great ease. This property of the MRI scans is used to locate the abnormalities in the abdomen and other organs located in the abdominal region.

Locating abnormalities in abdominal organs

MRI scan of the abdomen

10. Analysing Uterine Anomalies in Women

One of the major applications of an MRI scan lies in analysing uterine anomalies in women. It becomes difficult to get a picture of the uterine or vaginal malformations with the help of an ultrasound. Hence, in such a case the evaluation is done with the help of Magnetic Resonance Imaging.

Analysing uterine anomalies in women

MRI scan of the uterus

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