Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
What is it?
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) uses a very strong magnetic field with radio waves and powerful computers to generate images of the body without using X-rays. The patient lies on a table inside a doughnut shaped machine and is required to lie still for between 15 and 60 minutes depending on the scan type. The machine is noisy and we will provide earplugs or music via headphones. Some examinations may require an injection of a dye but this will be discussed with you prior to the examination. Examinations of the intestines will require the patient to drink a quantity of water before the examination.
There are no radiation risks associated with MRI but great caution is required to prevent anything containing magnetizable metal such as iron going near the machine. Most jewellery, bank cards and mobile phones must not enter the room. Many types of pacemaker, nerve stimulators and aneurysm clips are contraindicated in the scanner. Other implants such as joint replacemenst are safe but can affect the image quality. The staff will go through a thorough safety questionnaire before any scan to ensure patient safety.
What is it used for?
MRI can produce detailed imaging of nearly any part of the body.
Brain and spine - MRI is excellent for imaging the brain and spinal cord and can be used to diagnose various conditions including tumours, stroke and multiple sclerosis. It can also examine the arteries and veins which supply the brain. In the spine, it can identify abnormalities involving the cord as well as the bones and soft tissues which may lead to pain and sciatica
Bones and Joints - MRI is very sensitive to detect damage or abnormalities to the bones and soft tissues forming joints such as cartilage, tendons, ligaments and muscles. This is useful to diagnose degenerative conditions such as arthritis and problems associated with sports injuries.
Internal Organs - MRI can examine for abnormalities in organs such as the liver, adrenal glands and kidneys. It can also be used to examine the small bowel in detail.
Breasts - MRI can be useful to examine the breasts for cancer particularly if there is an underlying genetic risk.
Blood vessels - MRI can examine the vessels in the neck, brain and lower limbs to assess for a significant narrowing which may cause symptoms
MRI of the brain
MRI of the intestines
MRI of the liver bile and pancreatic ducts (MRCP)
MR Angiogram of the aorta
MRI of the knee