MRI, short for Magnetic Resonance Imaging, is a radiation-free scanning technique that uses radio waves and magnetic fields to produce detailed three-dimensional images of the body. MRI can be used to identify or precisely locate an injury or abnormality, to scan for developing problems or analyze damage from previous trauma, and to aid in the planning of surgery.
Unlike X-rays, radioisotopes, CT and other methods that use radiation, MRI uses radiofrequency waves. Radio waves detect differences in water concentration and distribution in various body tissues.
During the procedure, the patient lies still on a table that slides into the MRI unit. Newer, “open” scanners do not enclose the patient and reduce anxiety for those with claustrophobia. A series of scans is then performed to obtain the image.