Understanding the MRI

MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging), which was once called Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Imaging, takes pictures of the internal parts of the body without using x-rays and CAT scans. The 'nuclear' was dropped from the name because people mistakenly thought that the imaging had to do with radiation somehow. An MRI scanner is a machine that contains a large and powerful magnet. The patient lies within this machine, and the magnet is then sent a series of radio wave signals. When these signals return to the machine, they are recorded and converted into pictures. One of the oft-cited benefits of Magnetic Resonance Imaging is that just about any part of the body can be imaged, and from just about any angle. Some of the most common uses of the scanners are to image soft tissues of the body, such as the nerves, spinal cord, and the brain. Tendons and muscles are also seen quite well with the scanner, and it is often used in association with sports injuries.