Treatments & Therapies

Magnetic Resonance Imaging – Treatment, Effects & Risks

Magnetic resonance tomography

Magnetic resonance imaging is often referred to as MRI or MRI. In medicine, magnetic resonance imaging is a so-called imaging procedure.

What is magnetic resonance imaging?

This means that magnetic resonance imaging can be used to collect image data on body structures or organs. Since the physical principles of magnetic resonance imaging are based on those of so-called nuclear magnetic resonance, magnetic resonance imaging is also occasionally referred to as magnetic resonance imaging.

The functioning of magnetic resonance imaging is based on magnetic fields, which in turn stimulate various atomic nuclei in the body of living beings. This excitation is then used by magnetic resonance imaging to collect data. The collection of image data is made possible, among other things, by different properties and compositions of different tissue types.

Thus, image contrasts can be achieved with magnetic resonance imaging. The technique of magnetic resonance imaging was developed in the 1970s.

Function, impact & goals

Magnetic resonance imaging is mainly used in the field of medical diagnostics, i.e. when diagnosing functional disorders or diseases. For example, magnetic resonance imaging makes it possible to generate so-called cross-sectional images or layered images.

Body structures or organs can be viewed in digital “slices”. This possibility of magnetic resonance imaging makes it possible to detect changes in the tissue of a living being. Depending on the field of application of magnetic resonance imaging, different methods can be used. For example, in addition to the creation of layered images, it is also possible to depict processes in the body on film.

In this way, for example, the blood circulation or the function of organ genes such as the heart can be displayed. This form of magnetic resonance imaging is also known as real-time MRI. Real-time MRI is also used, among other things, to assess the function of joints in motion.

If the aim of a patient’s diagnosis is to take a closer look at his vascular system using magnetic resonance imaging, the procedure of magnetic resonance angiography (MRA), for example, is suitable. With its help, blood vessels such as veins or arteries can be displayed. In this form of magnetic resonance imaging, the use of MRI contrast agent is occasionally used, with the help of which some images become clearer.

As a rule, MRA collects three-dimensional image data. To visualize structures of the brain, functional magnetic resonance imaging (also referred to as fMRI or fMRI) is suitable. In this form of magnetic resonance imaging, it is possible, among other things, to view activated brain areas in pronounced spatial resolution. If tissue perfusion is the focus of diagnostic consideration in a patient, perfusion MRI, for example, can be used.

Finally, if nerve fiber connections are to be virtually reconstructed, the use of a form of magnetic resonance imaging called diffusion imaging is suitable. With this method, movements of water molecules in the body can be spatially represented. The background is that, for example, in some diseases of the central nervous system, the movements of these molecules prove to be altered.

Side effects & dangers

Magnetic resonance imaging works without the generation of physically stressful radiation such as X-rays or other ionizing radiation. In cases where so-called contrast agent is used as part of magnetic resonance imaging, this agent can cause various side effects.

Contrast medium is used in magnetic resonance imaging in order to be able to visualize various physical structures more clearly. In some patients, contrast agents can cause allergies or intolerances. However, such an allergy is quite rare. The symptoms of intolerance of contrast agents used in magnetic resonance imaging include, for example, headaches or nausea.

Magnetic resonance imaging can pose risks, for example, in patients who wear metal in or on the body. For example, under the influence of magnetic resonance imaging, metal splinters in the body can change their position, which can endanger body structures. Also, the use of magnetic resonance imaging is limited in people who wear a pacemaker. This is because pacemakers can be destroyed by the effects of magnetic forces released in the course of magnetic resonance imaging.

During the performance of a magnetic resonance imaging, there is a high background noise due to the large magnetic forces, which some patients find unpleasant. In addition, the small diameter of the examination tube, which is used in magnetic resonance imaging, can occasionally cause feelings of anxiety or claustrophobia.

Lisa Newlon
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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.