High-Field MRI – Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI or MR) is a safe and comfortable imaging technique. It applies a strong magnetic field and radio frequency waves to detail both soft and hard tissues inside the body. There are no X-rays in MRI. High-field MRI, referring to the scanner’s magnetic strength, produces clearer image resolution than low- or mid-field MRI scanners.
MRI is used to diagnose musculoskeletal problems, brain and nervous system disorders such as stroke and multiple sclerosis, vascular and arterial disorders, tumors and symptoms of trauma or injury.
At LPMI, we use a high-field, short-bore MRI scanner. We combine the most current scanning software and the compassionate care of our technologists to maximize clinical quality and patient comfort. Our radiologists are subspecialists in neuroradiology, musculoskeletal radiology and breast MRI and additionally provide MR arthrograms, MR angiography and MR spectroscopy. For more information on these procedures, select MRI Procedures.
Preparing for a MRI Exam
Most MRI exams require no special preparation. One exception is an abdominal or pelvic exam, for which you will be asked to abstain from all food and liquids for six hours preceding your exam. For all other exams, you may eat, drink and take medications as you normally would. Please let us know prior to your exam if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, if you have diabetes or if you are taking prescribed medications of any kind.
- You will receive a telephone call from our staff to confirm your appointment.
- Wear loose, comfortable clothing without metal zippers or snaps.
- Bring the written prescription your physician gave to you for this procedure.
- You may be asked to bring previous imaging studies of the body area to your appointment.
- Arrive 15 minutes prior to your exam to complete paper work and change into scrubs if necessary.
- Bring all valid insurance information and a valid photo id to your appointment.
- Depending upon your insurance, a co-pay may be collected at the time of your appointment.
- If your procedure requires sedation or pain medications, bring a driver to help you return home. You may be required to arrive early to your scheduled appointment to administer sedatives effectively.
During the MRI Exam
- A contrast agent, or “dye,” may be injected to enable the radiologist to more clearly distinguish healthy and unhealthy tissues. Contrast agents are generally safe, however please inform the technologist if you have ever had a reaction to a contrast agent.
- We may perform blood testing minutes before an exam requiring contrast to ensure that BUN and creatinine levels are adequate. We draw blood from the same I.V. line that we use to give the contrast agent. This service conveniently eliminates the need for an additional lab appointment and needle stick prior to the MRI exam.
- Depending upon your exam, you will lie head-first or feet-first on a cushioned table.
- To boost the signal a device called a coil may be placed around the area of the body being scanned.
- The table will be moved into the scanner opening.
- As images are acquired, you will hear knocking and buzzing sounds for a few minutes at a time. It is important to lie as still as possible during this part of the exam so that we may capture clear images.
- Depending on the type of exam, your MRI scan can take anywhere from 20 - 45 minutes. Breast MRIs take anywhere from 45 – 60 minutes.
After the MRI Exam
- When your exam is complete, your images will be interpreted by one of our radiologists who specialize in the specific area of the body that you had scanned.
- The radiologist will prepare a detailed diagnostic report to share with your physician.
- Your physician will consider this information in the context of your overall care and talk with you about the results.
Neuroradiology and Musculoskeletal Radiology
MRI has become an essential tool in neuroradiology and musculoskeletal radiology because of its superior ability to show soft tissue contrast. Neuroradiology is a subspecialty of radiology that focuses on the diagnosis and characterization of situations involving the central and peripheral nervous system, the spine, and the head and neck. Musculoskeletal radiology is another subspecialty of radiology that focuses on the body's bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints, cartilage, and other connective tissue. The term "connective tissue" is used to describe the tissue that supports and binds tissues and organs together.
Breast MRI is a non-invasive procedure for looking inside the breasts without surgery and without having to flatten the breasts as is done in mammography. Breast MRI does not replace mammography or ultrasound but is done when those traditional exams are inconclusive. Candidates for breast MRI include women with a current diagnosis of breast cancer or whose routine mammograms indicate a possibility of cancer. Women with a family history of breast cancer among primary relatives and women with dense breasts or silicone implants may also be candidates for breast MRI.
LPMI uses a dedicated breast array coil that provides high resolution soft tissue contrast that distinguishes even the smallest tumors. During your exam, you will receive a contrast injection. You will lie on your stomach with both breasts naturally positioned in the cushioned breast coil. Your head will go onto a headrest and your arms will be positioned above your head. This exam may be done for one or both breasts, and takes approximately 45 – 60 minutes, depending upon the exam ordered.
MR arthrogram refers to a series of MRI images taken of a joint, such as a shoulder, knee or ankle, after a contrast agent has been injected directly into the joint. Our radiologists utilize fluoroscopy to guide the placement of the needle into the joint and then inject the appropriate quantity of contrast. The contrast allows for the highest level of detail to be seen including tiny fractures and tears.
Magnetic Resonance Angiography, or MRA, is an MRI technique used to visualize the blood vessels in key areas of the body such as the head, neck, arms, legs, heart, lungs, kidneys and pelvis. It is used to identify vascular disorders such as aneurysms, atherosclerosis, injury to vessels and in some cases to develop plans for surgical operations. MRA highlights the vessels through the use of a contrast agent and is best performed on a high-field MRI scanner.
Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy, or MRSI, combines multi-dimensional MRI images, usually of the brain, with a spectroscopy procedure that evaluates the chemical composition of the tissue. It is used to identify certain metabolic disorders associated with tumors. MRSI requires high-field MRI.