Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is an advanced diagnostic imaging technique that produces high resolution, computerised images of the human body, sometimes in 3D. These images are photographed on film and are either accessible via the internet or burned onto a CD. These are reported by an MRI specialist radiologist before being sent to your referring doctor. MRI scanning does not use radiation and is a painless procedure.
A very strong and uniform magnetic field is generated by a large magnet that is cylindrically shaped. The patient lies on a padded table that glides into the central opening (bore) of the magnet, with the body area being examined in the centre of the tunnel.
An antenna is placed over the body region being examined. This device (surface coil), detects a signal from the hydrogen (protons) in the water molecules of the body.
By varying the timing of radio-pulses, the spin of the protons can be altered, and information about the different characteristics of the body tissues can be determined. This gives MRI a very good ability to examine the soft tissues of the body that are rich in water content (muscles, cartilages, nerves) that other imaging techniques may not show very well.