How Are MRI Results Interpreted?

An MRI, more technically known as magnetic resonance imaging, provides images of the human body as if it were sliced into pieces of bread, reports Peter Pressman for The MRI scan provides an ideal method of observing soft tissues such as the brain and spinal cord. There are also several technical terms to better understand the results of an MRI scan.

Coronal refers to a slice that looks at the brain face first, explains Pressman. This term resembles cutting a loaf of bread in traditional fashion. A sequence sets the MRI scan to certain parameters and collects information about the human body accordingly. Different sequences can help better understand different types of diseases, with common sequences being T1, T2 and contrast. MRA refers to a magnetic resonance angiogram, which focuses on vessels of the brain. Hyperintensity and hypointensity represent pixels on the MRI result that are in shades of black or white. The shades can represent areas of higher activity, or lesions.

MRI scans do not expose the patient to any radiation, according to Pressman. Patients are placed into a narrow tube that holds a magnet. Turning on the magnet causes hydrogen atoms to spin rapidly. A radio pulse applied to the patient's body indicates areas to examine. Hydrogen atoms then release absorbed energy, which emits the signal the MRI machine detects.