Magnetic Resonance - Technology Information Portal Welcome to MRI Technology


In 2020 your scanner will probably work with a field strength of :

MRI Patient Information
  • Intro
Dear Patient, 
while is an Information Portal for the MRI Professional, we decided to concentrate patient related entries under this InfoSheet. This should make your search easier, but the information you will find here is still from a technical point of view.
On this first page, you will find general information about the MRI, the MRI procedure, and the open MRI.
On the second page, you will find details for safety, risks, and contraindications concerns regarding an MRI scan.
The third page interferes with MRI side effects as claustrophobia, acoustic noise and implants as cardiac pacemaker and cardiac stent.
The last page contains descriptions of the most common examinations like brain MRI, spine MRI and body MRI.
There is in addition to this InfoSheet a collection of 'MRI Centers' in the Resource Directory - and if there are still questions unanswered there is another collection with links to more 'Patient Information'.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging MRI 
(MRI) Magnetic resonance imaging is a noninvasive medical imaging technique that uses the interaction between radio frequency pulses, a strong magnetic field and body tissue to obtain images of slices/planes from inside the body. These magnets generate fields from approx. 2000 times up to 30000 times stronger than that of the Earth. The use of nuclear magnetic resonance principles produces extremely detailed pictures of the body tissue without the need for x-ray exposure and gives diagnostic information of various organs.
Measured are mobile hydrogen nuclei (protons are the hydrogen atoms of water, the 'H' in H20), the majority of elements in the body. Only a small part of them contribute to the measured signal, caused by their different alignment in the magnetic field. Protons are capable of absorbing energy if exposed to short radio wave pulses (electromagnetic energy) at their resonance frequency. After the absorption of this energy, the nuclei release this energy so that they return to their initial state of equilibrium.
This transmission of energy by the nuclei as they return to their initial state is what is observed as the MRI signal. The subtle differing characteristic of that signal from different tissues combined with complex mathematical formulas analyzed on modern computers is what enables MRI imaging to distinguish between various organs. Any imaging plane, or slice, can be projected, and then stored or printed.
The measured signal intensity depends jointly on the spin density and the relaxation times (T1 time and T2 time), with their relative importance depending on the particular imaging technique and choice of interpulse times. Any motion such as blood flow, respiration, etc. also affects the image brightness.
Magnetic resonance imaging is particularly sensitive in assessing anatomical structures, organs and soft tissues for the detection and diagnosis of a broad range of pathological conditions. MRI pictures can provide contrast between benign and pathological tissues and may be used to stage cancers as well as to evaluate the response to treatment of malignancies. The need for biopsy or exploratory surgery can be eliminated in some cases, and can result in earlier diagnosis of many diseases.
See also MRI History and Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI).

• View the NEWS results for 'Magnetic Resonance Imaging MRI' (222).Open this link in a new window.

• View the DATABASE results for 'Magnetic Resonance Imaging MRI' (9).Open this link in a new window

Further Reading:
A Short History of the Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
MRI's inside story
Thursday, 4 December 2003   by    
On the Horizon - Next Generation MRI
Wednesday, 23 October 2013   by    
  News & More:
Metamaterials boost sensitivity of MRI machines
Thursday, 14 January 2016   by    
MRI technique allows study of wrist in motion
Monday, 6 January 2014   by    
New imaging technology promising for several types of cancer
Thursday, 29 August 2013   by    
Study Shows MRI Can Be Used for Orthodontic Imaging
Monday, 12 August 2013   by    
MRI method for measuring MS progression validated
Thursday, 19 December 2013   by    
The 2003 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
2003   by    
MRI Procedure 
The MRI device is located within a specially shielded room (Faraday cage) to avoid outside interference, caused by the use of radio waves very close in frequency to those of ordinary FM radio stations.
The MRI procedure can easily be performed through clothing and bones, but attention must be paid to ferromagnetic items, because they will be attracted from the magnetic field. A hospital gown is appropriate, or the patient should wear clothing without metal fasteners and remove any metallic objects like hairpins, jewelry, eyeglasses, clocks, hearing aids, any removable dental work, lighters, coins etc., not only for MRI safety reasons. Metal in or around the scanned area can also cause errors in the reconstructed images (artifacts). Because the strong magnetic field can displace, or disrupt metallic objects, people with an implanted active device like a cardiac pacemaker cannot be scanned under normal circumstances and should not enter the MRI area.
The MRI machine can look like a short tunnel or has an open MRI design and the magnet does not completely surround the patient. Usually the patient lies on a comfortable motorized table, which slides into the scanner, depending on the MRI device, patients may be also able to sit up. If a contrast agent is to be administered, intravenous access will be placed. A technologist will operate the MRI machine and observe the patient during the examination from an adjacent room. Several sets of images are usually required, each taking some minutes. A typical MRI scan includes three to nine imaging sequences and may take up to one hour. Improved MRI devices with powerful magnets, newer software, and advanced sequences may complete the process in less time and better image quality.
Before and after the most MRI procedures no special preparation, diet, reduced activity, and extra medication is necessary. The magnetic field and radio waves are not felt and no pain is to expect.
Movement can blur MRI images and cause certain artifacts. A possible problem is the claustrophobia that some patients experience from being inside a tunnel-like scanner. If someone is very anxious or has difficulty to lie still, a sedative agent may be given. Earplugs and/or headphones are usually given to the patient to reduce the loud acoustic noise, which the machine produces during normal operation. A technologist observes the patient during the test. Some MRI scanners are equipped with televisions and music to help the examination time pass.
MRI is not a cheap examination, however cost effective by eliminating the need for invasive radiographic procedures, biopsies, and exploratory surgery. MRI scans can also save money while minimizing patient risk and discomfort. For example, MRI can reduce the need for X-ray angiography and myelography, and can eliminate unnecessary diagnostic procedures that miss occult disease.
See also Magnetic Resonance Imaging MRI, Medical Imaging, Cervical Spine MRI, Claustrophobia, MRI Risks and Pregnancy.
For Ultrasound Imaging (USI) see Ultrasound Imaging Procedures at

See also the related poll result: 'MRI will have replaced 50% of x-ray exams by'

• View the NEWS results for 'MRI Procedure' (6).Open this link in a new window.

• View the DATABASE results for 'MRI Procedure' (11).Open this link in a new window

Further Reading:
  News & More:
Metamaterials boost sensitivity of MRI machines
Thursday, 14 January 2016   by    
Casting patterns make MRI safer
Tuesday, 13 January 2015   by    
Working with MRI machines may cause vertigo: Study
Wednesday, 25 June 2014   by    
Novel Imaging Technique Improves Prostate Cancer Detection
Tuesday, 6 January 2015   by    
MRI Improves Breast Cancer Screening in Older BRCA Carriers
Monday, 5 January 2015   by    
Open MRI 
Open MRI scanners have been developed for people who are anxious or obese or for examination of small parts of the body, such as the extremities (knee, shoulder). In addition, some systems offer imaging in different positions and sequences of movements. The basic technology of an open MRI machine is similar to that of a traditional MRI device. The major difference for the patient is that instead of lying in a narrow tunnel, the imaging table has more space around the body so that the magnet does not completely surround the person being tested.
Types of constructions:
Semi open high field MRI scanners provide an ultra short bore (tunnel) and widely flared ends. In this type of MRI systems, patients lie with the head in the space outside the bore, if for example the hips are examined.
Open low field MRI machines have often a wide open design, e.g. an open C-arm scanner is shaped like two large discs separated by a large pillar. Patients have an open sided feeling and more space around them allows a wider range of positions.
Advanced open MRI scanners combine the advantages of both, the high field strength, newest gradient technology and wide open design. Even scans of patients in upright, weight-bearing positions are possible (e.g. Upright™ MRI formerly Stand-Up MRI).

Difficulties with a traditional MRI scan include claustrophobia and patient size or, for health related reasons, patients who are not able to receive this type of diagnostic test. The MRI unit is a limited space, and some patients may be too large to fit in a narrow tunnel. In addition, weight limits can restrict the use of some scanners. The open MRI magnet has become the best option for those patients.
All of the highest resolution MRI scanners are tunnels and tend to accentuate the claustrophobic reaction. While patients may find the open MRI scanners easier to tolerate, some machines use a lower field magnet and generates lower image quality or have longer scan time. The better performance of an advanced open MRI scanner allows good image quality caused by the higher signal to noise ratio with maximum patient comfort.
See also Claustrophobia, MRI scan and Knee MRI.

• View the NEWS results for 'Open MRI' (16).Open this link in a new window.

• View the DATABASE results for 'Open MRI' (37).Open this link in a new window

  Safety & Risks top
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