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What Is An MRI and What Does It Do?

Last updated 2 years ago

When you’ve suffered an injury or experience undiagnosed symptoms, your physician may use an MRI scan to help diagnose your medical condition. Your orthopedic surgeon can offer further information about MRI scans

What Is An MRI?

In a nutshell, an MRI, or a magnetic resonance imaging scan, is a non-invasive imaging test that helps physicians visualize your organs and the structures inside your body without having to make incisions.  MRIs use a powerful magnetic field, radio frequency pulses, and a computer to create a detailed image of your organs, soft tissue, and most other internal body structures.  Some common uses of MRIs include:

  • Generating images of organs in the chest, including the liver, kidneys, heart, spleen, bowel, pancreas, and adrenal glands.
  • Viewing pelvic organs, such as the male and female reproductive organs.
  • Creating images of blood vessels.
  • Producing pictures of the internal structure of the breasts.
  • Visualizing the brain to check for bleeding (aneurysm) or damage from a stroke.
  • Identify torn ligaments and tendonitis.

How Does An MRI Scanner Work?

The largest and most important component of an MRI machine is an extremely strong magnet that is used to create a large, stable magnetic field.  Radio waves are then used to rearrange the protons of the hydrogen atoms within your body to point either to your head or feet.  Approximately half of the atoms point in each direction and, as a result, most protons cancel one another out.  Any unmatched protons spin at a particular frequency that the computer processes and analyzes to produce a series of images “slices” of your body.  The images are then studied from various angles by the interpreting radiologist.  From these images, your doctor will be able to diagnose your condition and determine the best course of treatment.

After a sports injury, your sports medicine doctor or orthopedic surgeon may use an MRI to assist them in diagnosing and treating your condition.  In the Phoenix and Scottsdale area, chose the physicians selected by the Phoenix Suns, Arizona State University, and the Phoenix Mercury: The Orthopedic Clinic Association (TOCA).  The staff at TOCA offers in-house physical therapy, sports medicine and imaging tests, like MRIs and digital x-rays.  To get on the road to recovery, call TOCA at (602) 639-4027.


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