MRI – Magnetic resonance imaging – Process, benefits and alternatives
MRI - what is involved?
Magnetic resonance imaging/MRI is an imaging method, with which organs and tissue can be shown in great detail and any changes can be assessed. The examination method also known as nuclear spin tomography uses magnetic fields and high-frequency electromagnetic waves instead of X-rays.
Cross-sectional images of the inner body can be produced using magnetic resonance imaging. Soft tissue, such as the brain and internal organs, show up high in contrast on an MRI image and differentiated so that even details less than a millimetre in size are discernible. In addition to this high resolution, another advantage of the method is that the images can be taken in any desired plane – i.e. not only crosswise through body, but also lengthwise or diagonally. The computer can then generate a three-dimensional image of the inner body from the cross-sectional images.
MRI – when?
Magnetic resonance imaging is an essential medical instrument both for the detection and exclusion of a disease and for the monitoring of therapies. With the exception of organs with a low water content, bones or the lungs, MRI provides highly precise images of almost all parts of the body, which make even the smallest anomalies, their position and extent visible to the trained eye.
The examination of the brain and spinal cord is certainly the domain of the procedure. Furthermore, MRI is very well suited for the assessment of mammary glands, internal organs, blood vessels, muscles, tendons, ligaments and cartilage structures. Meanwhile, it is even possible to assess the motion of the beating heart in the "nuclear spin".
Magnetic resonance imaging is also gaining in importance for the early detection of certain cancers. This is due not least to an important advantage that the method has over the classic X-ray examination, but also over computed tomography: MRI does not work with potentially damaging X-rays and thus it can be repeated as often as necessary without risk to the patient.
MRI – how?
Most MRI scanners are tubes which the patient enters on a scanning table. The area of the body to be investigated must be positioned in the circular magnet tunnel. During the examination, the patient must remain as still as possible – even the smallest movements can affect the quality of the MRI images. In some examinations, a contrast agent is administered to the patient prior to the examination.
The duration of the actual examination depends on the issue and the body region to be investigated. It normally takes around 20 to 30 minutes. MRI is completely pain-free. However, the machine creates noise, which can be muffled with ear plugs or ear protectors.
As mentioned above, MRI works with extremely strong magnetic fields. Therefore, jewellery and other metallic objects such as glasses, braces and dentures, hair clips and hearing aids must be taken off prior to the examination – for the protection of the patient and the MRI machine. Chip cards and credit cards should also remain outside of the MRI room, as they may be damaged by the magnetic field.
MRI – are there alternatives?
When bony structures or the lungs are examined, the classic X-ray and computed tomography (CT) are more suitable than MRI. In other respects, the procedure is often used as an alternative or supplement to other diagnostic methods when their limits are reached.
I.e. magnetic resonance imaging is usually only carried out if other techniques, such as ultrasound, X-ray and CT do not provide reliable results, or at least sufficiently reliable results. Accordingly, there are also no alternatives for many issues.
MRI – why at the Wiener Privatklinik?
The Wiener Privatklinik not only offers you some of Vienna’s best medical specialists, but also specialists and the necessary technical diagnostic equipment for all examinations, which may be required if a disease is suspected as a result of the MRI. It also offers the best specialists for the immediate treatment of such diseases. Early detection and timely treatment at the highest level are the best guarantee for a long, pain-free life.
You can obtain more detailed information on magnetic resonance imaging from our telephone info-line or by email. All contact details can be found on our Contact page.