An MRI is a machine that creates images of organs and other tissues inside the body. Unlike x-rays, MRI does not use radiation – it uses the power of magnets to create pictures. Columbus MRI doctors use MRIs to scan and determine the severity of illness in patients.

What is an MRI?

The acronym MRI is short for Magnetic Resonance Imaging. MRI technology uses magnetic fields and radio waves to create images.

The typical MRI machine looks like a long tube. Inside the tube is a powerful magnet. When you like inside the MRI, the magnet creates a magnetic field that temporarily realigns the hydrogen atoms in your body. Radio waves then cause these aligned atoms to emit faint signals. A scanner inside the MRI machine picks up these signals and assembles them to create detailed, cross sectional images – like individual slices of a loaf of bread.

In fact, a single MRI image is called a ‘slice.’ A single MRI exam can produce dozens or sometimes even hundreds of images. MRIs can also produce 3D images so that Columbus MRI doctors can view the organ or tissue structure from many different angles. The practitioner can store these images on a computer or print them on film.

Columbus MRI doctors use MRIs to diagnose a variety of conditions, including strokes, aneurysms, tumors, spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis, and even eye or inner ear problems. Researchers frequently use MRI to study brain structure and function.

What is an MRI Procedure Like?

An MRI is painless and quick, usually lasting 30 to 60 minutes, but the procedure may take longer in some cases. Your Columbus MRI doctor may ask you to not eat or drink anything for 4 to 6 hours before the MRI.

A technician may ask you to wear a hospital gown or clothes without zippers or snaps, as certain types of metal can blur MRI images. In some cases, technician may administer a special dye, known as contrast, through an IV needle in your hand or arm. Occasionally, the technician will place special coils near the area to be studied. These coils help send and receive the radio waves to improve the quality of the image.

You will lie on a narrow table, which slides into the MRI “tunnel.” The MRI may produce loud, thumping noise but you can wear earplugs to reduce the noise. You can use an intercom to talk to the person operating the MRI machine from a nearby room. There is no recovery time unless you have received medication to help you relax during the test.

Contact your Columbus MRI center to learn more information about magnetic resonance imaging.