What is MRI?
MRI is a diagnostic procedure that uses a combination of large magnetic, radio frequencies and a computer to produce detailed images of organs and structures within the body. The MRI machine is a large, tube-shaped machine that creates a strong magnetic field around the patient. Computers are then used to form 2-dimensional images of the body structure or organ. An MRI is often used:
- to examine the heart, brain, liver, pancreas, male and female reproductive organs, and other soft tissues
- to assess blood flow
- to detect tumors and diagnose many forms of cancer
- to evaluate infections
- to assess injuries to bones and joints
How does it work?
Although specific protocols may vary, generally, an MRI procedure follows this process:
- If a contrast medication and/or sedative is to be given by an intravenous line (IV), an IV line will be started in your hand or arm. If the contrast is to be taken by mouth, the patient will be given the contrast to swallow.
- The patient lies on a table that slides into a tunnel in the scanner.
- During the scanning process, a clicking noise sounds as the magnetic field is created and pulses of radio waves are sent from the scanner. The patient may be given headphones to wear to help block out the noises from the MRI scanner and hear any messages or instructions from the technologist.
- The technologist will be watching the patient at all times and will be in constant communication.
Advance MRI Technology at UnityPoint Health - St. Luke's
At UnityPoint Health - St. Luke's we have the Siemens Aera MRI 1.5 Tesla scanner, which offers a range of functions including imaging of the brain, spine, joints, abdomen and breast. In addition, it executes angiography to obtain detailed images of the blood flow and vessels of the body and breasts. This system delivers improved patient care, better diagnostic accuracy and these added features for patient comfort:
- A table limit of 550 pounds and a larger, more open bore
- Unique motion controlling software, which is important for patients who have difficulty remaining still due to discomfort, pain and anxiety
- Audio Comfort, thereby reducing noise by up to 97% and making ear protection no longer mandatory for many routine exams
- Music that can be played during the patient's exam
- "High field" ultra-short bore MRI system, which allows the patient's head to remain outside of the system for a number of scans
- Total Imaging Matrix technology, reducing the need for interrupted exams due to repositioning of the patient, thus shortening the patient's exam time and reducing patient anxiety
The American Cancer Society recommends women who are at high risk for breast cancer get a Breast MRI, which provides physicians with detailed images of the breast from any angle, and mammogram each year. With St. Luke's 1.5 Tesla magnet, one of the strongest magnets in Siouxland, St. Luke's breast MRI allows for more detailed information in the evaluation of breast disease in selected cases.