What is an MRI?
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a test that produces detailed, cross-section images from inside your body using radiofrequency waves. At Medstar Radiology Network, these images might be used to identify diseased tissue or abnormal growths within the body, to determine cancer stage progression and to develop a treatment plan.
An MRI is a non-invasive scan that generally requires the patient to remain still for 30-60 minutes inside the MRI tube as the images are taken.
MRI images can be used for the diagnosis of a variety of conditions, and might be ordered for everything from blood clots to internal injuries. The resulting images can be invaluable in cancer diagnosis and treatment planning, though an MRI is not specifically a form of cancer treatment.
In general, an MRI is able to provide more detailed images than a CT scan when it comes to the soft tissues of the body. As a result, an MRI is more likely to be utilized when there are concerns of cancer spreading to the brain, spine, muscles and connective tissues. Throughout the course of treatment, additional MRIs may be ordered to track the progression of the disease.
Preparing for an MRI
Prior to beginning this test, patients are typically asked to remove any metal or electronic items they may have on them, and they might be required to change into a hospital gown. Once the patient is prepped, they will be asked to lie down on the MRI table and to remain still throughout the duration of the test. In some cases, a contrast dye may be injected, but the test itself is otherwise painless.