Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a non-invasive imaging technology that uses a combination of a powerful magnetic field, radio waves, and a computer to produce detailed, three-dimensional (3D) pictures of the inside of your body. Many times, MRIs are able to give clearer insight into the internal structures of the body over other imaging methods.
MRI imaging can be very beneficial in evaluating:
- Organs of the chest and abdomen, including the heart, breasts, liver, kidneys, spleen, bowel, pancreas, and other soft tissue
- Pelvic organs such as the bladder, uterus, ovaries, and prostate
- Blood vessels
- Lymph nodes
- Joint, bone, and muscle injuries
Most MRI machines are large, tube-shaped magnets that a patient enters for a short time while lying comfortably on an exam table. Unlike X-rays and CT scans, MRIs do not use radiation. Instead, a magnetic field temporarily realigns hydrogen atoms in your body. Radio waves then cause these aligned atoms to produce very faint signals, which are used to create cross-sectional MRI images, called slices.