Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), is an advanced, state-of-the-art method which produces very clear pictures, or images, of the human body without the use of X-rays. This technology enables physicians to detect developing diseases or abnormalities earlier.
MRI uses a powerful but harmless magnetic field and radiowaves, like the kind that transmit your favorite FM music. The combination of radiowaves and magnetic field produce detailed images of body structures such as the brain, the spine and other vital organs.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Does an MRI Work?
The human body is made up of millions of atoms, which are magnetic. When placed in a magnetic field, these atoms line up with the field, much in the way a compass points to the North Pole.
Radiowaves, tuned to a specific frequency, tip these tiny magnets away from the magnetic field. As they tip, they gain energy. When the radiowaves are turned off, the atoms try to realign with the magnetic field, releasing the energy they gained as very weak radio signals. A powerful antenna picks up these signals and sends them to the computer, which performs millions of calculations to produce an image for diagnosis.
The MRI exam poses no risks to the average patient if appropriate safety guidelines are followed. If you have any questions regarding the MRI exam, please be sure to discuss them with your doctor.
Preparing for Your MRI Exam
Prior to your exam, please review the following:
- Please bring previous X-rays applicable to the exam. The radiologist may want to review them. (For example: If you are having a MRI of the knee, bring any previous X-rays of your knee.)
- If you think you may be claustrophobic, ask your doctor to prescribe medication prior to the exam and request our Open Bore MRI system. If you do receive medication, please bring someone with you who will be able to drive you home because you will not be able to drive yourself.
- You CAN eat and drink prior to the exam.
- You CANNOT have the exam if you have any of the following:
- Cerebral aneurysm clips
- Certain heart valves
- Cochlear implants
- Metal filings in the eye
What to expect during the MRI exam
Although MRI is a very advanced medical technique, the MRI exam is probably one of the easiest and most comfortable exams you may ever experience.
The technologist will simply ask you to lie down on a cushioned table which will automatically move into the magnet after you have been comfortably positioned for scanning. The technologist will leave the magnet room, but you will be in constant contact with each other through the entire exam.
When the MRI scan begins, you will hear a muffled thumping sound which will last for several minutes. Just relax, even take a nap, but try to lie as still as possible since any movement during this time will blur the picture.
Other than sound, you should experience no other sensation during scanning. When scanning is completed, the technologist will return to assist you off the table.
MRI Technology at ORMC
Orange Regional offers the latest MRI technology available with open and closed MRI systems, including:
Magnetic Resonance Angiography
Magnetic Resonance Angiography (MRA) is the radiography of vessels after the injection of a radiopaque contrast material. Unlike angioplasty, which is an invasive procedure, angiography breaks the skin only for the insertion of a needle for administering a radiopaque catheter and positioning under fluoroscopic control. This technique is used to image arteries in the brain, heart, kidneys, gastrointestinal tract, aorta, neck, chest, limbs and pulmonary circuit.
1.5 Short Bore MRI
Our high-field, short bore MRI delivers unsurpassed diagnostic detail - providing comprehensive MRI exams from head to toe. The short bore, or opening, allows almost all MRI's to be performed with your head outside of the machine and exams are typically completed in 20 minutes. Short bore MRI minimizes feelings of claustrophobia and can provide an alternative to open MRI for many patients.
Open Bore Magnetic Resonance Imaging (Open Bore MRI)
Orange Regional Medical Center offers patients an Open Bore, 1.5 Tesla, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) system. This technology combines a larger bore, or opening, and can capture top-quality diagnostic images. The strength of a magnet is measured in units of Tesla. Orange Regional's Open Bore MRI system has a high Tesla magnet, meaning that images produced will be superior to those of a lower Tesla magnet.
Aside from the imrpoved imaging of the MRI machine, the essential benefit to patients using our Open MRI machine is that in comparison to traditional MRI machines, "open bore" has a larger opening, making it easier for patients who are obese or claustrophobic to have MRI scan.
- Claustrophobic Patients: The Open Bore MRI at Orange Regional Medical Center is great for claustrophobic patients with an opening of nearly 2.3 feet in diameter and approximately one foot of free space between a patient's head and the magnet. The MRI also features the shortest 1.5 Tesla magnet available allowing more than 60 percent of exams to be completed with the patient's head outside of the bore. These important features mean that virtually all claustrophobic patients can be scanned in comfort.
- Medically Obese Patients: A wider range of area patients will benefit from this new service. Prior to this advanced technology, medically obese patients who could not fit inside the bore of a high-field MRI magnet, causing image studies to be conducted in open MRI systems with low-field magnets. This limited the diagnostic usefulness of the images obtained.
Receiving Test Results
At Orange Regional Medical Center, we have the capability to electronically deliver your test results to your physician via our GE IntegradWeb Picture Archive Computer System (PACS) which uses advanced technology to aid in fast diagnosis. Once images are taken, they are immediately available for review by your doctor through our secure Web viewer on any computer with an Internet connection.