MRI or Magnetic Resonance Imaging is a radiology technique that uses magnetism, radio waves and a computer to produce images of body structures. MR Imaging does not utilize ionizing radiation. The MRI scanner is a tube surrounded by a giant circular magnet. The patient is placed on a moveable bed that is advanced into the magnet. The magnet creates a strong magnetic field that aligns the protons of hydrogen atoms, which are then exposed to a beam of radio waves. This spins the various protons of the body, and they produce a faint signal that is detected by the receiver coil of the MRI scanner. The receiver information is processed by a computer, and an image is produced.
The images are then sent digitally to the radiologist for interpretation through Austin Radiological Association’s PACS (Picture Archiving Communication System). The images will be interpreted by one of our radiologists who specialize in the particular area being evaluated. The image and resolution produced by MRI is quite detailed and can detect tiny changes of structures within the body. For some procedures, contrast agents, such as gadolinium, are used to enhance certain anatomical structures and increase the diagnostic accuracy of the images.
If you are breast feeding and need more information on contrast agents and breast milk, please see Contrast Agents and Breast Feeding – Recommendations.