Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a non-invasive procedure that uses a specialized magnetic field along with radio waves to create a detailed digital picture of a specific organ or region inside the body. MRI is often used to look for tumors, or to get an accurate picture of a patient’s liver, heart, or intestines, though it can be a highly effective tool in evaluating many types of conditions and other parts of the body.
Because MRI procedures don’t use ionizing radiation, which is used in x-rays and other imaging techniques, they offer a safer way for patients who will require multiple imaging sessions over the course of their treatment, and reduced risk for pregnant women and pediatric patients.
Depending upon the information needed and the part of the body to be imaged, an MRI session may last from 30 to 60 minutes. Desert Medical Imaging offers both standard closed “high field” MRI, which is a tube like spiral imaging concept with a short bore many people are familiar with, and an open MRI imaging concept, which can be used for certain types of scans, for patients who may be claustrophobic inside the tube, or larger patients who may not fit properly inside the tube.
For more information on this and other radiology procedures, please visit www.radiologyinfo.org.
Whole Body MRI Scans
Wernher von Braun, who with his team launched the first American satellite into space said, “One test is worth a thousand expert opinions.” With today’s advanced imaging technology, radiologists can take “one picture” of the entire inside of your body which is comparable to “a thousand expert opinions.” Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scanners allow physicians to perform a whole body scan, without ionizing radiation from Computed Tomography (CT) scans.
A whole body MRI scan looks at the body from head to toe in order to find cancers, inflammation or obstructive processes in the body. In the head, the exam can show brain masses, shrinkage, old strokes, the sinuses and nasal cavities. In the neck, abnormalities in the lymph nodes, thyroid masses or arthritis in the cervical spine can be identified. In the chest, we check the heart for enlargement and the aorta for aneurysms. Moving to the abdomen and pelvis, we can evaluate the kidneys, liver, spleen, adrenal glands, gallbladder (gallstones), pancreas, bladder, uterus and ovaries. We look at the spine to check for disc herniation and spinal stenosis; and in the extremities, arthritis in the joints. An additional exam of a specific area may be required if an abnormality is identified in order to obtain more detailed information.
If you have a history of smoking, it is recommended that a CT lung screening without contrast be added to the whole body MRI screening.
Any concerns relating to prostate cancer, colon cancer and breast cancer would require body specific imaging and is not included in the whole body MRI screening.
This exam is useful for individuals who are asymptomatic, yet want an overview of their current health condition. Early detection of cancers can radically change the type of treatment options that will be available to a patient. Other areas of concern might benefit from simple changes in lifestyle such as eating habits or exercise.
Patients can opt to have whole body MRI scans performed without a physician’s order; however, as with many imaging screening exams available today, this exam is not currently covered by insurance.