What is an MRI?
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is an imaging tool that creates detailed, cross-sectional pictures of the inside of the body. Using radiofrequency waves, powerful magnets and a computer, MRI systems are able to distinguish between normal and diseased tissue.
MRI plays an important role in cancer diagnosis, staging and treatment planning. With MRI, we can distinguish between normal and diseased tissue to precisely pinpoint cancerous cells within the body. It is also useful for revealing metastases. MRI provides greater contrast within the soft tissues of the body than a CT scan. As a result, it is often used for imaging the brain, spine, muscle, connective tissue and the inside of bones.
During an MRI, a patient rests on a table and slides into a large tunnel-shaped scanner. Some exams require a contrast dye to be injected into a vein before the procedure. This helps certain areas show up better on the images. The procedure is painless and typically takes 30-60 minutes.
Unlike X-rays and CT scans, an MRI does not use radiation.