MRI Scan Information for MRI Service Clinics in Canada

MRI Scan Informatio

What is an MRI?
Magnetic Resonance Imaging or MRI is a diagnostic procedure that can peep through, inside the body and obtain pictures of the soft tissues.


Unlike X-ray, MRI uses a strong magnetrather than harmful ionizing radiations to detect changes in the body systems.



Through the magnetic field created, MRI can spot even subtle changes in the normal anatomy and physiology. It gives an accurate picture, making it favorable for the patients and physicians in cases of serious diagnosis.



MRI is a revolution in the field of diagnostics because it has made exploration of body structure and functions possible with minimum invasive methods.


Getting an MRI
MRI scans can be used on all body parts and are not disturbed by bone, body waste or gas. They can only be disturbed by breathing, heartbeat and bowel movements. The process is expensive, takes time and is complex in nature. It also needs a radiologist, a trained operator and a huge machine. Physicians prefer to use this method only when the other scan methods are not productive or when the case is serious.

MRI and Pregnancy, is it Safe?
Did you know that MRI does not have ionized radiation?

Pregnant women are however advised MRI only if necessary because the fetus may be sensitive during the first trimester to the noise and heat. It is during this time that organogenesis takes place and MRI is not warranted. Apart from this, gadolinium compounds enter the bloodstream while taking out images which is highly risky. 

Despite these reservations, MRI provides evaluation of fetal tumors, open fetal surgery and planning procedures to safely deliver babies with formation defects.

An MRI can be prescribed for various body parts.

  a) Brain and Head MRI
An MRI of the brain helps to evaluate patients complaining of headaches, seizures, weakness, blurry vision, etc.

Brain tumor, meningitis, stroke, Alzheimer's disease or multiple sclerosis can be detected at a very early stage with MRI scan.

A head coil placed around the patient’s head facilitates in obtaining detailed picture of the brain.
b) Spine MRI
Herniated inverted discs, degenerated discs, weakness, numbness, back pain, neck pain caused by severe spinal problems can be clearly detected by MRI.

MRI is useful in understanding the nerve tissues within the spinal cord. Spinal MRI can be done to locate the exact place of any malignant growth or tumor. It is extremely advantageous in cases related to spinal cord damage and paralysis.
c) Neck MRI 
The details of nerves inside the upper part of the cervical spine are clearly visible through the MRI.

MRI provide detailed 3-D pictures of the internal organs. The patients are advised MRI when they are suspected to have malignant growth in their neck or have cord/root compression.

The most important advancement in MRI is the stand-up MRI, which is very useful to patients with neck problems. They are scanned while they watch T.V and what’s more you get crystal clear images because of magnetic calibration.
d) Breast MRI
MRI can detect breast tumors in the initial diagnosis itself. This can be otherwise missed by mammography or clinical examination. 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Magnetic Resonance Breast Imaging as a supplement tool to investigate related follow-ups after mammography and other examinations.

MRI is indispensable for women who have a strong family history of cancer and who are under 40 years of age. MRI uses magnetic as well as radio waves to show images of the breast and it determines the mode of treatment too.

A total MRI exam consists of 2-6 sequences with each sequence taking up to 2-15 minutes. The breast array coil images different breast tissues, with the technologist having visual control of breast position through a transparent window. An MRI scan of breasts may take 30-60 minutes to complete.
e) Cardiac MRI
MRI can effectively identify the size and thickness of the heart chambers. In a patient with coronary artery disease, it can detect build-up of plaque and blockages in the blood vessels and indicate the degree of heart attack. It is an indispensable tool for evaluating function of the heart muscles, valves and vessels.
f) Musculoskeletal MRI
Soft tissues in the body like cartilage, ligaments and tendons are difficult parts to get clear images of. MRI can make us see through the skull bone and assess bone loss [osteoporosis].

Tears in tendons, infection of lower spine and shoulder infection all these frightening conditions can be diagnosed easily through MRI. Sports persons are more likely to get numerous complications which cannot be clearly visible .This technique is a boon to people who are suffering from bone cancer and leukemia.

MRI gives a clear image of bone marrow which facilitates faster treatment to the patients.
g) Shoulder MRI
Shoulder injuries are hard to heal because the patients cannot give full rest to the shoulder because the slightest movement will refresh the wound resulting in internal scar tissue. Healing and treatment of this problem has now become effective and fast because of MRI.

Developmental abnormalities in children can also be clearly seen in MRI scan.
h) Knee MRI
MRI is used as a road map for its accuracy in showing internal derangements. Surgeons request knee MRI in musculoskeletal imaging, particularly for its accurate evaluation of knee joints. Arthroscopy makes use of this method to the fullest.
i) Abdomen MRI
MRI is effective in cases where repeated scanning is an absolute necessity.

In chronic cases like liver cancer, the therapy has to be monitored regularly and thoroughly. This needs constant exposure to x-rays which is not warranted. MRI of the abdomen is highly recommended during these times and also when CT or endoscopic ultrasound of the abdomen is not particularly diagnostic.
j) Pelvis MRI
One of the main reasons of female pelvic imaging is to detect lesions, tumors and recurring changes from past treatments. Patients are advised not to eat or drink anything for 4-6 hours before the exam.

In males, pelvic MRI is performed to know about prostate gland. All the patients are given enema to clean the rectum prior to the examination. The MRI session for pelvic imaging lasts for about 30 minutes.


MRA: MRI for Blood Vessels
Magnetic Resonance Angiography [MRA] is a kind of technique which medically visualizes arteries, veins and creates a different contrast between soft tissues and blood vessels. It displays both blood flow and the condition of the blood vessel wall.

MRA’S can be of three different types:

  - Time Of Flight Angiography (TOF)
  - Phase Contrast Angiography (PCA)
  - Contrast Enhanced Magnetic Resonance Angiography (CE_MRA)

An MRA is recommended for the following indications:

  - Dissections and aneurysms.
  - Vessel anatomy evaluation.
  - Blood clot blocks caused by plaques

Disadvantages of MRI
MRI’s cannot be done on people who have pacemakers, screws from previous surgeries and also who are oversized. 

Magnetic waves can give you distorted pictures with the presence of metals inside the body. The patients have to be still during MRI. Even a slight movement on the patient’s part will lead to redoing the whole process. It is considerably expensive compared to other methods.

What is an Open MRI?
Open Magnetic Resonance Imaging [open MRI] is open on all four sides as the name suggests. It reduces claustrophobic effects on patients making them comfortable and at ease. 

The open MRI machines are silent and give a sense of not being confined. It needs no preparation as it will not induce vomiting sensation and the patient need not feel enclosed.

Time pulses are emitted between the body and large magnetic fields. A specially designed computer converts these signals into images.

The open MRI allows people who are large in size and people who are physically handicapped to be imaged without any hurdle. Children can be easily comforted, as their parent or guardian can accompany them.

It is heartening to know that this kind of open imaging would not require sedation which automatically makes the imaging economical. One more plus point is that it is painless because of no radiation and less noise.