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, MRI makes it 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 419-969-3245.

What Is an MRI?

An 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. The diagnostic test allows a physician to view the body part 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 uses ionizing radiation and can potentially damage an individual’s DNA.

Enhanced Patient Comfort With Our MRI Device

Orthopaedic Institute of Ohio utilizes the 3rd Generation Open MRI scanner to perform the diagnostic test. This particular MRI device features a large opening and shorter tunnel, allowing for comfort and reduced anxiety for claustrophobic patients. 

Advantages of Using MRI for Diagnosis

Magnetic Resonance Imaging offers numerous advantages over other imaging methods. Here are some unique benefits:

Noninvasive and Safe

MRI is noninvasive, meaning it does not require surgery or the insertion of instruments into the body. It uses strong magnetic fields and radio waves instead of ionizing radiation, making it a safer option, especially for frequent imaging.

Detailed Imaging

MRI provides highly detailed images of soft tissues, organs and other internal structures. It can detect abnormalities that other imaging techniques might miss, such as small tears in ligaments or subtle changes in tissues.


MRI can be used to examine almost any part of the body, from the brain and spinal cord to the joints and muscles. This versatility makes it a valuable tool for diagnosing a wide range of conditions.

Early Detection of Diseases

MRI is particularly useful for the early detection of diseases such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and neurological disorders. Early diagnosis can significantly improve treatment outcomes.

How Does an MRI Work? 

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 Does an MRI Show?

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 any potential conditions affecting 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 has 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 allows for the detection of aneurysms, blood vessel blockages, carotid artery disease and arteriovenous malformations.


MRI is the gold standard for diagnosing spine disorders. It 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.

Joint Injuries

MRI is highly effective in diagnosing joint injuries, such as torn ligaments, meniscal tears and cartilage damage. It provides detailed images that help in planning treatment, whether it’s surgery or physical therapy.

Muscle and Tendon Injuries

MRI can accurately diagnose muscle and tendon injuries, providing detailed images that reveal the extent of the damage. This information is crucial for developing effective treatment plans.

How to Prepare for an MRI

Proper preparation is crucial for the success of an MRI scan. Here’s what you can expect and how to prepare:

Consultation and Screening

Before the MRI, you will have a consultation with one of our physicians to discuss your medical history and any potential risks. You may be asked about metal implants, pacemakers, stimulators or other devices that can interfere with the magnetic field.

Dietary Restrictions

In most cases, you can eat and drink normally before an MRI. However, for certain types of scans, you may be instructed to avoid eating or drinking for a few hours beforehand.

Clothing and Personal Items

You will be asked to remove any metal objects, such as jewelry, watches and belts. You may also need to change into a hospital gown to avoid interference from clothing with metal fasteners.

Relaxation Techniques

Some people may feel anxious or claustrophobic during an MRI. Relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing or listening to music, can help. Open MRI machines, like the ones at the Orthopaedic Institute of Ohio, can also reduce anxiety by providing more space.

What Happens During an MRI Test?

The patient lies comfortably on a moveable bed during an MRI test with their head positioned on a pillow 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, you can listen to music from a stereo system or nap, and the technologist will be in constant contact. You must lie as still as possible during the test so that the images do not come out blurred. 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.

What Happens After an MRI? 

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 Safety and Considerations

While Magnetic Resonance Imaging is generally safe, there are some considerations to keep in mind:

Metal Implants

Certain metal implants, such as pacemakers or cochlear implants, can be affected by the magnetic field. It is important to inform your doctor if you have any implants before scheduling an MRI.


If you are claustrophobic, an open MRI machine can help reduce anxiety. Sedation may also be an option for those who are extremely anxious.


MRI is considered safe during pregnancy, but we generally recommend avoiding it during the first trimester unless absolutely necessary.

We may require the ordering physician, the radiologist, and/or the obstetrician to sign off before proceeding with the MRI.

Frequently Asked Questions About MRIs

What Should I Wear for an MRI?

Wear comfortable clothing without metal fasteners, if possible. If your clothing contains any metal, you will be asked to change into a hospital gown to prevent interference.

How Long Does an MRI Take? 

An MRI diagnostic test lasts for approximately 30 to 45 minutes. The time needed will depend on the area being examined and the complexity of the required images. 

Can I Move During the MRI?

It’s important to remain as still as possible during the MRI to ensure clear images. Moving can cause the images to blur, which may affect the accuracy of the diagnosis.

Are MRIs Suitable for Children?

Yes, MRIs can be performed on children. The procedure is safe, but sedation may be used for young children who have difficulty staying still.

What Is the Difference Between a CT Scan and an MRI? 

CT scans (Computed Tomography), also called Computed Axial Tomography (CAT) scans, use X-rays to create detailed cross-sectional images of the body. The X-ray beams rotate around the patient, producing multiple images that a computer combines into a single detailed picture. In contrast, MRIs (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) use magnetic fields and radio waves to produce detailed images of soft tissues, organs and other internal structures without using ionizing radiation.

Image Detail

  • CT Scan: Better for imaging bone fractures, detecting tumors and diagnosing lung and chest problems. It is quicker and more widely available.
  • MRI: Superior for imaging soft tissues, such as the brain, spinal cord, muscles and ligaments. It provides more detailed images of these structures than a CT scan.

Radiation Exposure

  • CT Scan: Involves exposure to ionizing radiation, which can increase the risk of cancer with repeated use.
  • MRI: Does not use ionizing radiation, making it a safer choice for repeated imaging, especially for younger patients and those requiring frequent scans.


  • CT Scan: Typically takes five to 10 minutes, making it a faster option for emergencies.
  • MRI: Takes 30 to 45 minutes or longer, as it requires more time to produce detailed images.

Use Cases

  • CT Scan: Commonly used for trauma cases, detecting tumors and diagnosing vascular conditions. It is also used to guide certain procedures like biopsies.
  • MRI: Preferred for neurological conditions, musculoskeletal disorders and detailed imaging of soft tissues, such as ligaments and tendons.

Understanding these differences can help patients and doctors choose the appropriate imaging method based on the patient’s specific medical condition and diagnostic needs.

Experience Safe and Detailed Imaging With Magnetic Resonance Imaging

MRI is a powerful diagnostic tool that provides detailed, highly accurate images of the body’s internal structures without the use of radiation. At the Orthopaedic Institute of Ohio, advanced MRI technology and compassionate care come together to offer patients accurate diagnoses and effective treatment plans. Whether you’re dealing with a sports injury, chronic pain or a neurological condition, MRI can help identify the problem and guide your path to recovery. 

If you have any questions about what an MRI entails or whether you could benefit from it, please call the Orthopaedic Institute of Ohio in Lima, OH, at 419-969-3245 or visit our contact page.