When is an MRI Warranted?

Diagnostic imaging, including MRI scanning, has revolutionized the medical field, playing a vital role in saving lives. By generating detailed images of organs and tissues, MRI scans aid in accurate diagnosis and effective treatment strategies for various conditions.

If you've been advised to undergo an MRI, understanding its significance in diagnosing orthopedic conditions is crucial for improving healthcare outcomes. Let's delve into the world of diagnostic imaging and explore the role of MRI scanning in enhancing healthcare.

What is an MRI scan?

A Magnetic Resonance Imaging, MRI scan is a non-invasive medical procedure that utilizes a large magnetic field, radio waves, and computer technology to generate detailed sliced images of the body's internal organs and structures. Unlike other imaging techniques, such as CT scans or X-rays, MRI does not involve the use of ionizing radiation.

The MRI scanner itself resembles a large tube, and patients lie on a table that slides into the machine. It is crucial to remain still during the scan to ensure the creation of accurate cross-sectional images. The magnetic field and radio waves interact with the body's tissues to produce high-resolution images.

Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) is a specialized type of MRI that measures brain activity by detecting changes in blood flow. This technique is often used in research to understand brain function and map neural activity.

MRI scans are commonly ordered by healthcare providers to assist in diagnosing various conditions. Some of the scenarios where an MRI scan may be warranted include spine problems, cartilage abnormalities, cysts within the body, problems with the spinal cord, and ligament issues. Additionally, MRI scans can provide valuable information for orthopedists in diagnosing and planning treatment for a range of musculoskeletal conditions.

Overall, MRI scans offer a safe and effective means of obtaining detailed images of the body's internal structures, without the need for ionizing radiation. They play a crucial role in medical diagnosis and treatment planning.

MRI vs. CT scan: Which is right for you?

Both MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) and CT (computed tomography) scans are imaging tests that provide detailed images of the body's internal structures. While both techniques have their strengths, the choice of which exam to undergo depends on various factors.

An MRI exam uses radio waves and powerful magnets to create high-resolution images of the body. They are particularly effective in visualizing soft tissues, such as the brain, spinal cord, and joints. MRI scanners can capture detailed images that help healthcare professionals detect abnormalities and diagnose certain conditions.

On the other hand, CT scans utilize specialized X-ray technology to produce cross-sectional images of the body. CT scans excel in capturing MRI images of bones, organs, and blood vessels. They are often preferred for assessing injuries, identifying tumors, and evaluating the extent of diseases.

When determining the appropriate imaging technology for an individual, healthcare providers consider several factors, including the specific condition being evaluated, the area of the body being examined, and the patient's medical history. In some cases, a combination of both MRI and CT scans may be necessary to obtain a comprehensive understanding of a patient's condition.

It is crucial to consult with your healthcare provider about the imaging test that is most suitable for your specific needs. They will consider your medical history and symptoms to ensure that you receive the most accurate and informative diagnostic examination.

Remember, whether it's an MRI or a CT scan, these imaging tests play a vital role in helping healthcare professionals diagnose and treat various medical conditions, ultimately contributing to better patient care and outcomes.

MRI is advantageous for viewing soft tissues

An MRI is often recommended to obtain detailed images of soft tissues, such as cartilage and ligaments, including blood vessels. This imaging technology is superior to CT scans in visualizing these structures and detecting any abnormalities.

On the other hand, if the focus is on examining solid tissues like bones, a CT scan is usually the preferred choice, although it may not provide information about blood flow.

When it comes to functional MRI, it is a specialized technique that measures brain activity by detecting changes in blood flow. It is commonly used to study brain surgery function and map neural activity during various tasks or in response to stimuli.

While some patients may opt for an MRI to avoid radiation exposure, it's important to consider that the benefits of a CT scan outweigh the risks when appropriate. Your healthcare provider will explain which imaging modality is more suitable for your specific case, taking into account factors such as the area of interest, diagnostic goals, and potential risks.

What should you know about MRIs before getting one?

Some patients get anxious about having to slide into the tube of the MRI machine. If confined spaces cause you difficulties, or you are anxious about results, discuss it with your Barrington Orthopedic Specialist doctor. Physicians can prescribe anti-anxiety medication to keep you relaxed while getting your MRI.

MRI machines use powerful magnets. Prior to scheduling your MRI, the staff will ensure that you can safely undergo this process to create detailed images. Patients with metal inside their bodies are usually unable to have an MRI. The clinical staff will go over everything in detail to ensure that you’re properly prepared for your MRI scan.

Schedule Your MRI Today for a Comprehensive Health Evaluation

The orthopedic surgeons, rehabilitation specialists and clinical staff at Barrington Orthopedic Specialists are experts at diagnosing and treating bone and joint problems. Our MRI department is offered at the Schaumburg location at Barrington Orthopedic Specialists.  Please call 847 285-4200 toschedule an appointment.