An M.R.I scan or Magnetic Resonance Imaging, is a way of taking pictures of the inside of the body, without using X-rays. It is extremely important when trying to obtain a full clinical picture of any physical internal abnormality, without resulting to invasive surgery. If the results are good, unnecessary surgery has been avoided or if the results mean surgery is necessary, a precise location can be depicted and good knowledge of what to expect increases the success rate of any operation.
Part of the scanner used, consists of a long tube large enough for the patient, lying on a table, to be guided through. To obtain the pictures a large magnet is used creating a large magnetic field. The body consists of billions and billions of tiny atoms. In certain circumstances these atoms will behave like tiny magnets themselves.
Hydrogen atoms are the easiest ones to observe as these are found throughout the body in fluids, fat, the brain and other soft tissues. Pushing someone in to an extremely powerful magnetic field, forces the tiny atoms to line up in relation to it. Next, radio waves are used to distort these atoms out of alignment.
When the radio wave is switched off, the atoms realign emitting a radio signal as they do so. Analyzing these signals and using computers and other high-tech equipment, it is possible to build up an image of where these atoms are, and convert this into a photograph.
People who have pacemakers,or other metallic implants in the body must let the operators know. Also recent surgery to the heart or brain should be mentioned. It is not advisable to have an M.R.I during the first 3 months of pregnancy.
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