Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) has become an increasingly vital tool for medical professionals seeking detailed images of the body. The first MRIs were performed over 40 years ago, but technological advancements have made them an essential part of diagnosis and treatment.
Today, MRIs are used for disease detection, to evaluate injuries and the structure of the joints, bones, and soft tissues of the body, as well as providing essential information on glands and organs.
What is an MRI?
An MRI is a scanning technique for getting detailed images of the human body. It relies on a strong magnetic field and radio waves to create images that can’t be seen as well with X-rays, ultrasounds, or CT scans.
There are multiple uses for MRIs, including helping doctors examine internal body structures to diagnose serious health issues such as strokes, aneurysms, spinal cord injuries, and more. They’re also used to detect various sports injuries.
The MRI scanner consists of a large tube with a giant circular magnet. Patients are placed on a moveable bed that slides into the tube/magnet.
How MRIs Benefit Patients
The images produced by MRIs are often life-saving and essential in diagnosing various health disorders.
1. MRIs and sports concussions
A recent study used MRI to find out if pediatric patients who suffered sports concussions had persistent symptoms due to structural changes in the brain. Post-concussion effects such as headaches and cognitive difficulties tend to persist for a longer time in children than in adults.
The study found that only a small fraction of children involved in the study suffered structural damage such as intracranial lesions – thus providing important insight for clinicians dealing with children who suffer from persistent post-concussion symptoms.
2. MRIs and neurological disability in cardiac arrest patients
MRIs provide important information in the study of patients who suffer neurological disability after cardiac arrest. Many cardiac arrest survivors have significant neurological issues because of the temporary loss of oxygenated blood to the brain during the cardiac event.
The use of MRIs enable doctors to predict future levels of patient function with a greater degree of accuracy. It also provides “game changing” information about what happens in the brains of people who have a cardiac arrest.
3. Broader uses for MRIs
As mentioned, MRIs are used in a variety of capacities to provide important information in confirming a patient’s diagnosis.
For example, an MRI is used to evaluate the structure of the heart and aorta – where it can detect tears or aneurysms - and to evaluate the spinal cord after injuries. In many cases, surgery may be deferred or accurately directed after an MRI scan.
Some other benefits of an MRI include:
- It’s a non-invasive imaging technique with limited exposure to radiation.
- It is effective in discovering abnormalities that may be hidden by bones with other imaging techniques.
- MRIs are proven valuable in detecting a wide range of conditions, including heart disease, cancer, and bone and muscular abnormalities.