How Magnetic Resonance Imaging/MRI works
MRI technology uses no x-rays, but rather a strong magnetic field and radio waves. The heart of the MRI is formed by a heavy-weight, superconductive magnet with an opening, through which the patient enters lying on an examination table. With our new Panorama, which is open from all sides, you can enjoy an unrestricted view during the examination. In no time at all, imaging of every part of the body is produced. A computer generates views of the examined areas from the digital data, which the radiologist then evaluates.
The brain and spine cord as well as internal organs (with the exception of the lungs), but also muscles or joints are particularly well displayed. Even organs like the beating heart now show up excellently. The pictures can also be presented as a film.
Further important uses of MRI are the precise display of blood vessels, the early diagnosis of tumours, as well as insights into the body's metabolism. Virtual image analysis methods illustrate processes within the body to the referring colleague and patients.
The advantage of an MRI scan is that it is a gentle and practically risk-free examination method. With no x-rays involved, children and pregnant women after the first trimester can also have an MRI scan. And in cases where patients should not be administered a contrast agent containing iodine, as is necessary, for example in CT scanning, the radiologist can often opt for an MRI examination instead.
Process of examination
Before the examination
Before the examination you must remove all metal objects on your person. This includes watches and hearing aids, as well as debit/credit cards. Metal parts in your body, such as fixed dentures, prosthetic joints or metal plates that have been inserted following a bone fracture generally do not pose a problem. Please indicate elements in your body that may contain metal, in particular:
- vessel supports, like stents
- vessel clips
- an artificial heart valve
- an insulin pump
- metal fragments
As the magnetic field can cause malfunctions, patients with pacemakers are unable to undergo an MRI examination, as well as patients with internal prosthetics (cochlear implants).
During the examination
During the examination you lie on an examination table which slowly begins to move into the opening of the unit, in the direction of the magnet. Your whole body will enter the unit, or sometimes just part of your body, if, for example, just your knee joint is being examined.
Magnetic fields, switching on and off produce quite loud, banging noises, which some patients find disturbing. Therefore, you wear earplugs or protective headphones, and often you can listen to music during the examination. Depending on the area of the body being examined and the problem being investigated, the examination lasts from a few minutes to half an hour.
The administering of contrast agents
During the MRI examination it may be necessary to insert a special contrast agent. The injection is administered through a vein. The vein access will be put in place as needed before the examination.