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What is an MRI used for?

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Quick Answer

An MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging, is used to scan the body to identify problems in soft tissues, such as nerves, ligaments, tendons and muscles, according to Alliance Medical. An MRI highlights contrasts in soft tissues to identify infections or inflammatory conditions, too, according to the Nemours Foundation.

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Full Answer

In orthopedics, an MRI is used to identify any structural abnormalities, degeneration of discs or the spinal cord, tumors or bone marrow disease, according to the Nemours Foundation. Although an MRI is often used to detect problems within the body, it can also be used to assess the results of orthopedic procedures or surgeries or monitor joint deterioration, according to the John Hopkins Medical Library. During the procedure, the MRI scanner uses radio waves and a magnetic field to take pictures of the body's structures, tissues and organs.

An MRI does not use radiation, according to the Nemours Foundation. The imaging equipment consists of a large magnetic device with a tunnel in the center where patients are placed on a table that is inserted into the tunnel. Many MRI scanners are closed tunnels with a tight fit for patients, although some have larger openings for patients suffering from claustrophobia, states the Nemours Foundation.

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