Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) has had a revolutionary impact on the field of medical imaging. Its role in improving our understanding and interpretation of the brain and its coverings has been monumental. Additionally, it has fundamentally transformed the practice of musculoskeletal medicine and surgery.
MRI generates images based on the magnetic properties of atoms within the body, notably hydrogen. This advanced technology can obtain images in any plane and most sequences, which provides a unique advantage over other imaging modalities. In many ways, the images are viewed using the same principles as Computed Tomography (CT). For instance, axial plane images are typically viewed as if the observer is looking from the patient’s feet towards their head.
MRI also makes use of intravenous contrast agents to enhance the contrast between different tissues. Unlike CT, where iodinated contrast agents are commonly used, MRI typically employs contrast agents containing paramagnetic substances. Gadolinium and manganese are examples of these substances, which alter the magnetic field and enhance the signal on MRI.
MRI has the ability to distinguish between soft tissues, which often look similar on other imaging modalities. This has made it the imaging modality of choice for a wide range of medical conditions, particularly those involving the brain, spine, and joints.
Overall, MRI’s advanced technology, coupled with its ability to provide highly detailed images without the use of ionizing radiation, has made it a crucial tool in the diagnosis, management, and monitoring of a plethora of medical conditions. Its impact on medicine continues to grow, as does the ongoing research into its potential applications.