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Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

Orthopedics is a unique specialty that requires an in-depth understanding of the musculoskeletal system. The vast system consists of the body’s bones, muscles, tendons, cartilage, ligaments, joints, spine and connective tissues that bind the organs together. The musculoskeletal system supports the body by supporting motion and protecting vital organs. Given the vastness of the musculoskeletal system, if you experience reduced mobility or pain in a particular area, it can be challenging to target what part is hindered. Thankfully, it is possible to attain an accurate diagnosis for an issue without the risk of pain or radiation.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a device that utilizes magnetic fields to accurately gauge the state and root cause of a patient’s condition. Learn more about MRIs at Orthopaedic Institute of Ohio by calling 419-222-6622.

What Is an MRI?

MRI is a diagnostic test that takes images of soft tissues within the body. The noninvasive device utilizes a large magnetic field, radio waves and a computer to produce images, unlike a computed tomography (CT) scan. The diagnostic test allows a physician to view the spine and brain in slices, allowing for an accurate and precise way to examine a patient’s condition. An MRI is among the most valuable tools for a physician. The test produces no known side effects compared to a CT scan, which has ionizing radiation and can potentially damage an individual’s DNA.

Orthopaedic Institute of Ohio utilizes the New Generation Open MRI scanner to perform the diagnostic test. This particular MRI device features a large opening, allowing for comfort and reduced anxiety for claustrophobic patients. When a patient is placed into an MRI, the millions of hydrogen atoms that make up their body become aligned with the large magnetic field. Once aligned, a radio wave disrupts the polarity of the atoms. A sensor then detects how long it takes for the atoms to return to their original placement to measure the water content of various tissues. A highly detailed black and white image is then produced to show even the slightest abnormalities in the body’s musculoskeletal system.

The images produced by an MRI are narrow slices of tissues that are approximately a quarter of an inch thick. Depending on what a physician is attempting to see, the MRI image will produce tissue images from the bottom, front and sides, meaning a thorough examination and accurate diagnosis can be performed.

When Is an MRI Appropriate?

An MRI is an appropriate diagnostic tool if detailed images of soft tissues, such as cartilage and ligaments, are needed to diagnose a patient’s condition accurately. The device accurately produces images of specific tissues that a CT scan cannot, making it the better option in some cases. An MRI can also be favorable for patients who are wary of undergoing a CT scan because of concerns over radiation.

An MRI is especially beneficial for examining certain neurological conditions because it can safely diagnose diseases of the brain, skeleton and spine. Certain conditions such as multiple sclerosis (MS), brain tumors, spinal cord abnormalities and vascular abnormalities, among other conditions, can all be adequately assessed with the help of an MRI. Other scenarios that may warrant an MRI include:

  • Cartilage abnormalities
  • Cysts within the body
  • Ligament issues
  • Degenerative changes

Determining if an MRI is the appropriate diagnostic tool will require a visit with a trained physician.

What Can Be Seen During an MRI?

An MRI allows for nearly every part of the human body to be studied. The diagnostic tool gives very detailed images of the musculoskeletal system. In the images, air and hard bone will appear as black. Bone marrow, spinal fluid and soft tissues will vary in intensity of black and white because the amount of water and fat differs in each tissue. A physician will examine the varying intensity of these bright and dark areas to gauge whether certain tissues are healthy.

During an MRI, the following regions of the body can be examined, and what condition inflicts them can be understood:

Head and neck Utilizing an MRI in this part of the body will allow for the detection of brain tumors, if a traumatic brain injury occurred and developmental abnormalities. Conditions such as MS, dementia and infections can be examined.

Arteries and veins Examining the arteries and veins with an MRI allow the detection of aneurysms, blood vessel blockages, carotid artery disease and arteriovenous malformations.

Spine An MRI detects changes in cartilage and bone structures that are a result of injury, disease or age. Performing an MRI on the spine allows the detection of herniated discs, spinal tumors, pinched nerves and fractures.

What Happens During an MRI Test?

A patient lies comfortably on a moveable bed during an MRI test with their head positioned on a headrest and their arms at their sides. A coil, which is an antenna device, is placed over the patient’s body where the imaging is necessary. Once positioned, the table moves slowly into the magnetic field. During the process, a patient can listen to music from a stereo system or nap, and the technologist will be in constant contact. A thumping sound will be heard during an MRI, which is the sound of pictures being taken. There is no pain or discomfort experienced during an MRI.

An MRI diagnostic test lasts for approximately 30 to 60 minutes. Patients must lie as still as possible during the test so that the images do not come out blurred. After the test, patients can return to daily activities immediately. The radiologist gives results after an MRI to a physician so the state of an individual’s condition can be reviewed and discussed.

MRI is a unique diagnostic tool that allows physicians to determine concerns associated with the musculoskeletal system accurately. If you have any questions about what an MRI entails and when it is appropriate for the device to be utilized, please contact Orthopaedic Institute of Ohio in Lima, OH, at 419-222-6622 or visit our contact page.