Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

Magnetic resonance imaging does not use any X-rays, but a strong magnetic field and radio waves. An electromagnet weighing several tons with a tubular opening into which the patient bench is pushed constitutes the heart of the magnetic resonance imaging scanner. Tomograms of any region of the body can be realised in a short time. A computer uses the digital data to calculate views of the region of the body examined that the radiologist evaluates afterwards.

The brain and the spinal cord, internal organs (except for the lungs) are particularly well visible, but also muscles or joints. It has even become possible to capture moving organs, such as a beating heart, on images.

 

Other important fields of use of magnetic resonance imaging are the precise visualisation of blood vessels, early detection of tumours as well as insights in body metabolism. Virtual image analysis methods demonstrate processes happening inside the body to the referring colleagues and the patient.

Magnetic resonance imaging offers the advantage that it is a low-impact examination method practically without any risks. Since there is no exposure to radiation, even children and pregnant women may be examined. And when a patient is allergic to iodine-containing contrast agent, as used e.g. for computed tomography, the radiologist can often fall back on an examination using magnetic resonance imaging. 

 

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

 

More information

www.radiologie.de 

Before the examination

Before the examination starts, you will have to take off all metallic objects. These include also watches, hearing aids as well as cheque or credit cards. Metal parts in the body, for example fixed dentures, joint prostheses or metal plates after the operation of a fracture normally do not represent a problem. Please inform the staff if you have any metal-containing parts, in particular

  • vessel supports such as stents
  • vascular clips
  • a prosthetic heart valve
  • an insulin pump
  • metal fragments
  • tattoos

Since malfunctions may occur in the magnetic field, patients with cardiac pacemakers are excluded from the examination as are patients with inner ear prostheses (cochlear implants).

During the examination

During the examination, you are lying on a bench that is slowly moving into the opening of the system, that is in the direction of the magnet, in the beginning. You will then be completely or - for example during an examination of the knee joint - in part inside the system.

Magnet fields that are switched on and off create a relatively loud tapping noise that some patients find a nuisance. Therefore, you will get earplugs or a closed ear-protective device; you will often be able to hear music during the examination. Depending on the region of the body examined and on the problem, the examination will take a few minutes or up to half an hour.

Administration of a contrast agent

It may be necessary during an examination in the magnetic resonance imaging scanner to give you an injection of a special contrast medium. The injection is made into a systemic vein. The intravenous line is put in accordingly before examination.

Should the device seem too confined

In general, you can assume that the head is outside the device during an examination of the lower half of the body. Short anaesthesia may be required in rare cases. In this case, you will have to be accompanied for the examination, since you will not be allowed to drive for one day.

Some patients suffer from the relative narrowness of the device ("claustrophobia"). If this is the case for you, please talk to your general practitioner or the radiologist before the examination.

You do not need to be worried, this is an everyday situation for us. In case of doubt, you should lie on the patient bench and have the bench moved in the device for test purposes. If a feeling of unease occurs, we can give you an agent to relax.

Open magnetic resonance imaging

In addition to our conventional magnetic resonance imaging scanner, an open magnetic resonance imaging scanner (high-field MRI Philips Panorama) has been available to private patients and self-pay patients at the private practice "Open MRT ATOS Klinik" since September 2010. The practice is situated very near to Radiologische Gemeinschaftspraxis at Schneidmühlstr. 21.

The examination in the Panorama device constitutes a comfortable alternative for all patients, in particular for persons with

  • claustrophobia,
  • limited mobility,
  • overweight.

For more information on the Open MRT private practice, please visit

www.open-mrt-heidelberg.de 

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