Magnetic resonance imaging: what it is and how this test is performed

Throughout the history of science, the human body and what is integrated into it have attracted the interest of all health researchers. Fortunately, thanks to advances in science, it is no longer necessary to perform invasive tests that endanger the health of the patient.

In 1971, Dr Raymond Damadian and his team created the first device magnetic resonance imaging, a completely painless test that allows you to observe the inside of our body by means of very detailed images.

    What is a nuclear MRI?

    Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) is a diagnostic test that emits images from inside our body. With this test, clinical staff can detect any abnormalities that are not noticeable with the naked eye or with other tests such as x-rays.

    The main feature that sets this test apart from x-rays or computed tomography (CT) is that resonance does not use ionizing radiation or x-rays. On the contrary, this technique uses a series of radio waves passing through the patient’s body, which is exposed to a strong magnetic field.

    Another advantage of nuclear magnetic resonance imaging is that very detailed images from any point and perspective of the body can be obtained through the use; even get to two or three dimensions.

    To get these images the person is introduced into a large machine resembling a giant-sized UVA ray machine. The person must remain supported inside for a variable period ranging from 30 to 60 minutes. However, some centers have open machines suitable for people who are afraid of being closed.

    This magnetic resonance imaging is called a “cut”. In one test, they can get a lot of images, Which can be stored digitally or printed on paper.

    Finally, there are different types of MRI tests, depending on the area you want to examine.

    • MRI of the head
    • Thoracic NMR
    • Cervical MRI
    • Magnetic resonance imaging of the abdomen
    • Pelvic MRI
    • MRI of the heart
    • Lumbar MRI
    • MRI angiography
    • MRI venography

    When should an MRI be done?

    Performing an MRI, along with other examinations, tests and evaluations, is a great help for health professionals during any type of diagnosis.

    When medical staff suspect or warn of any sign of illness, they usually order an MRI, usually in a specific area or location on the body.

    Usually, the most common reasons for requesting this test are as follows.

    1. MRI of the head

    To detect tumor formations, aneurysms, spills, heart attacks or brain damage. They are also used to assess eye or hearing disorders.

    2.MRI of the abdomen or pelvis

    It is used to evaluate organs such as the kidneys, liver, uterus, or ovaries and the prostate.

    3. Bone MRI

    Using this technique, problems like fractures, arthritis, hernias, etc. can be identified.

    4. MRI of the chest

    Particularly useful for examine the heart anatomy and assess any damage or alterations to the arteries. In addition, it also reveals tumors in breast and lung cancer.

    5. MRI venography

    This type of resonance facilitates the observation of thrombi, heart attacks, aneurysms or blood vessel malformations.

    How should the patient be prepared?

    There are a number of issues that the patient should consider before undergoing this test. It is also the duty of the nursing staff to inform the person of what this procedure looks like and of the obligations or points to be taken into account that the person must have before performing an MRI.

    1. Documentation required

    Medical personnel should give informed consent to the patient in which it is explained in detail what the test consists of and what risks it entails. The person must give this consent and bring it with them on the day of the test.

    2. Food

    Depending on the body to be examined, the person should not ingest any food, do not consume any liquids for a few hours before the test.

    3. Company

    MRI it is a completely painless and non-invasive test it will therefore not be necessary for the person to come accompanied. However, in cases where the person is experiencing fear or anxiety, the company of someone they know can be of great help.

    4. Clothing

    During the test, the person he must wear only the hospital gown, Being necessary to undress before performing the test. It is also mandatory to remove any type of metallic object such as earrings, bracelets, hair accessories, etc.

    Duration of the test and admission

    The MRI test usually takes around 30 to 60 minutes. Since there is no need to perform any type of anesthesia or procedure, it is always performed on an outpatient basis, so the person is not admitted.

    Although this is a virtually harmless technique, there are a number of contradictions:

    • Cases of allergy to contrasts used in MRI scans.
    • Women with intrauterine devices (IUDs).
    • People who have a metallic component inside their body such as screws, pacemakers, shrapnel, etc.
    • Patients with claustrophobia.
    • Obese people.
    • Severe renal or hepatic impairment
    • Patients having surgery on a blood vessel.
    • Unstable or clinically severe patients they may need some sort of resuscitation maneuver
    • Breastfeeding women should not breastfeed their babies 24 to 48 hours after the test., In cases where some type of contrast has been administered.

    In all of these cases, patients should inform hospital staff in order to tailor the test to their personal needs, without taking any risk.

    How is MRI performed?

    As mentioned above, the MRI machine has an elongated cubic shape inside which a stretcher is placed. This stretcher slides inside the device and the patient must be lying face up and absolutely still throughout the test.

    Depending on the type of test, intravenous inoculation of a contrast agent will be necessary to highlight the organs examined. This substance is known as gadolinium and its main advantage is that it does not contain iodine and is not likely to cause side effects.

    In cases where it is necessary (anxiety or fear), the patient may be given some kind of relaxing medication to prevent him from moving during the test. The same. it is also possible to attach your arms, head or chest using straps.

    Once the test has started the person may hear a loud sound of ventilation and the typical test beep. Headphones can be offered to alleviate the discomfort.

    Throughout the procedure, imaging technicians will monitor the patient to give instructions, as well as to attend to them in the event of an incident.

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