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Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

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Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)  

What is magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)?

Magnetic resonance imaging (abbreviated MRI) is a method that utilizes a strong magnetic field for transmission of radio waves through the body in order to display 3-dimensional images of parts of the body on a computer screen and on film.

Purposes for MRI include:

• Diagnosing the presence of tumors or other abnormalities
• Helping to determine whether a tumor is non-cancerous (i.e., benign) or cancerous (i.e., malignant)
• Determining how far a cancer has spread in the body (i.e., for staging of the cancer)

To provide better resolution of images, some MRI methods involve injection of gadolinium, a metallic liquid contrast medium, into a vein.

An MRI procedure involves the patient being imaged while being motionless inside a tube-like container. During the MRI procedure, you will hear loud clanging sounds from the imaging instrument. If you have experienced claustrophobia (i.e., fear of being in a small space) in the past, notify your physician, radiologist, and radiology technician before the MRI, as other types of imaging procedures may be more appropriate for you.

Wearing metal can interfere with MRI. Therefore, do not wear metallic jewelry during an MRI.

If you wear removable medical devices (such as a pacemaker or a prosthesis) containing metal on the outside of your body or internally (such as metal clips, metal prostheses, or a certain type of pessary), notify your physician, radiologist, and radiology technician before the MRI. If your medical condition permits, certain medical devices containing metal may be removed just prior to the MRI and replaced immediately following the MRI.

If your medical condition prevents the medical device containing metal from being removed temporarily during an imaging procedure, MRI will not be an appropriate imaging method for you. In that case, other imaging methods (such as computed axial tomography) may be performed.

If you previously underwent surgery involving implantation of metallic material into your body, tell your physician, radiologist, and radiology technician, as MRI will not be an appropriate imaging method for you. In that case, other imaging methods (such as computed axial tomography) may be performed.

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