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MRI/MRA (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)

MRI is a noninvasive, sophisticated diagnostic imaging technique using a powerful magnetic field in conjunction with low-energy radio waves. MRI scanners can image parts of the body previously hidden from view by bone.
These clear, detailed images allow physicians to pinpoint brain lesions, identify problems of the spinal column, heart, abdomen, and other organs and tissues. MRI does not use ionizing radiation (X-rays).


What are the Advantages?

  • Because MRI can give such clear pictures of soft-tissue structures near and around bones, it is the most sensitive exam for spinal and joint problems. MRI is widely used to diagnose sports-related injuries, especially those affecting the knee, shoulder, hip, elbow and wrist. The images allow the physician to see even very small tears and injuries to ligaments and muscles.
  • MR Angiography of the heart, aorta, coronary arteries and blood vessels is a fast, noninvasive tool for diagnosing coronary artery disease and heart problems. Physicians can examine the size and thickness of the chambers of the heart, and determine the extent of damage caused by a heart attack or progressive heart disease.
  • Organs of the chest and abdomen - including the lungs, liver, kidney, spleen, pancreas and abdominal vessels - can also be examined in high detail in MRI images, enabling the diagnosis and evaluation of tumors and functional disorders. MRI is growing in popularity as an alternative to traditional X-ray mammography in the early detection of suspected implant rupture.
  • MRI contrast material is less likely to produce an allergic reaction than the iodine-based materials used for conventional X-rays and CT scanning. 
  • Exposure to radiation is avoided.

Technology Updates

  • 3T MRI (Franklin Woods, Johnston Memorial and Johnson City Medical Center)
  • 1.0T Open MRI (Johnson City Medical Center)
  • MRI of the breast (Franklin Woods, Indian Path, Johnson City Medical Center, Norton & Johnston Memorial)

The Procedure

You will be positioned on the moveable examination table and an open frame will be positioned around the body part being scanned. If a contrast material will be used in the MRI exam, a nurse or technologist will insert an intravenous (IV) line into a vein in your hand or arm. You will be moved into the magnet of the MRI unit and the radiologist and technologist will leave the room while the MRI examination is performed.

When the examination is completed, you may be asked to wait until the technologist checks the images in case additional images are needed. The entire examination is usually completed within 45 minutes.

Metal and Electronic Implants

An MRI exam is safe, simple and painless. However, because some metal interferes with the MRI machine, a patient cannot be examined if he or she has:

  • Brain aneurysm clips
  • A pacemaker or pacing wires
  • Metal fragments in one or both eyes
  • Inner ear implants
  • An implanted spinal cord stimulator or brain stimulator