What Does an MRI Scane Show?


Quick Answer

According to WebMD, doctors use MRI scans to obtain information about the organs and internal structures that X-rays, ultrasounds and CT scans do not provide. MRI scans are pictures of the head, chest, bones, blood vessels, abdomen, pelvis and spine. They are used to look for tumors, bleeding, injury, infection and various blood vessel diseases.

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Full Answer

MRI scans emit pulses of radio wave energy, using the body's natural magnetic field to create images that can be saved, stored and viewed remotely for close study. While some people may prefer to have the scan performed in an open machine, WebMD warns that the images produced may not be as clear as those from a standard closed machine and not all hospitals have open machines available. Sometimes, to enhance the tissue, contrast material or dye is injected, increasing the visibility of the disease on the scan.

According to a 2002 article in BMJ, MRIs are particularly useful for detecting disease because most diseases manifest with an increase in water content. However, the images often look similar, necessitating a radiologist to interpret them. MRIs do not expose patients to the risk of radiation, but pacemakers, metal clips and metal valves can move around in the magnetic field and pose potential health hazards.

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