To Your Health: An inside look at MRI
BY DR. PERRY GILBERT Ingalls Health System October 15, 2013 12:58PM
Dr. Perry Gilbert | Supplied photo
Who can have MRI?
The strong magnetic fields created during an MRI can interfere with certain implants, particularly pacemakers. Individuals with cardiac pacemakers cannot have an MRI and should not enter an MRI area. You may not be able to have an MRI if you have any of the following metallic objects in your body:
Brain aneurysm clips
Certain artificial heart valves
Inner ear (cochlear) implants
Recently placed artificial joints
Some older types of vascular stents, stimulators, implanted devices
Metal in the eye or bullet fragments
Those with severe kidney disease also may not be able to have an MRI.
For more information or to schedule an MRI, call Ingalls Central Scheduling at (708) 915-3333. Appointments are available seven days a week at all Ingalls locations. Times vary by location but in general are 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Updated: November 17, 2013 6:09AM
You may have recently seen or heard about “vertical” magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for upright imaging, or machines with particularly wide openings to increase a patient’s comfort during an MRI scan.
While patient comfort is always a consideration, the most important factors to keep in mind when considering where to go for your MRI are the strength of the magnet and the skills of the radiologist interpreting the images.
The stronger the magnet, the greater the resolution, and this is what determines how clear and detailed the images are. And that means the most accurate and earlier-discovered diagnosis.
While it may be more comfortable, vertical MRI offers a substantially weaker magnet strength (0.6 to 1.0T, or 37 percent to 60 percent weaker than the standard 1.5T); it also is more susceptible to outside artifacts, possibly creating a blurrier picture. It is best utilized for patients who truly cannot tolerate a traditional supine MRI scan.
At Ingalls Memorial Hospital and Ingalls Family Care Centers, our MRI technology offers the most powerful magnet strength available anywhere. And it can be used for all types of imaging. With units that offer 1.5T and 3T magnet strength, Ingalls MRI provides the clearest, most detailed pictures of the body to assist your doctor in making an accurate, informed diagnosis. And when it’s your health at stake, that’s what you deserve.
MRI is a highly sophisticated way to look inside the body without using X-rays. It uses a powerful magnetic field and radiowaves, sending radiowaves into the body part imaged, and listens to the response the body returns. MRI can noninvasively obtain detailed images of bone, soft tissue, organs, vessels and most other internal structures.
During an MRI scan, the area of the body to be studied is placed inside a special machine that contains a strong magnet. Pictures from the scan are digital and can be saved and stored on a computer for more study. The images can also be reviewed remotely, such as in a clinic or an operating room.
MRI is very versatile technology and is performed for many reasons. It is used to find problems such as tumors, bleeding, traumatic injury, blood vessel diseases, cancer or infection.
MRI also plays a vital role in cancer diagnosis, staging and treatment planning. It allows doctors to distinguish between normal and diseased tissue to precisely pinpoint cancerous cells and detect cancer cells earlier within the body. It is also useful for revealing cancer metastases.
In general, MRI scans can be done of the:
Head. MRI can look at the brain for tumors, an aneurysm, bleeding in the brain, nerve injury, multiple sclerosis and other problems, such as damage caused by a stroke, and abnormalities of very small parts of the brain, such as the eyes, ear canals and pituitary gland.
Chest. MRI of the chest can look at the heart, heart wall, wall motion and coronary blood vessels. It can show if the heart or lungs are damaged or do not have enough blood supply. MRIs of the chest may also be used to look for breast or lung cancers.
Abdomen and pelvis. MRIs can find problems in the organs and structures in the belly, such as the liver, gallbladder, pancreas, adrenal glands, bile ducts, bowel, kidneys and bladder, and vessels supplying the organs. It is effective in finding tumors, bleeding areas, infection and blockages. In women, MRI can look at the uterus and ovaries and the pelvic floor. In men, it can be used to study the prostate gland.
Bones and joints. MRI can check for problems of the bones and joints, including bone tumors, bone marrow problems, cartilage troubles, torn ligaments or tendons and infection. MRI may also be used to tell if a bone is broken when X-ray results are not clear.
At Ingalls Family Care Center in Flossmoor, our powerful 3T MRI allows us to evaluate ligaments in the smallest joints, such as the hand, wrist, ankle and foot, with unmatched clarity and precision.
Spine. MRI is highly effective in evaluating the discs and nerves of the spine for conditions such as herniated discs, spinal tumors and spinal stenosis.
Vessels. MRI provides a clear picture of the vessels for blockage, without puncturing the arteries.
Magnet size matters
The strength of MRI is measured in units called Tesla. A 3 Tesla (3T) magnet is nearly twice as strong as a 1.5T magnet and allows radiologists to obtain very precise images of even the tiniest abnormalities. Most abnormalities can be clearly seen with a 1.5T MRI but the 3T MRI may be specifically indicated for imaging certain smaller body parts and for those with very special imaging needs.
For maximum patient comfort and convenience, Ingalls offers MRI at four locations throughout the south suburbs, including the main hospital campus in Harvey and at the Ingalls Family Care Centers in Flossmoor, Calumet City and Tinley Park. Our magnet strength includes one 3T MRI scanner and three 1.5T scanners.
Ingalls and Flossmoor also offer options with more spacious openings and shorter bore lengths without compromising quality, for enhanced patient comfort, especially for patients with claustrophobia. It is rare that a patient who has a concern for small spaces will not be comfortable in one of our wider bore MRI scanners. Other calming features include soothing lighting and decor in the testing area, and personal earplugs so patients can listen to music.
And once you’ve had your MRI, you want your results right away. At Ingalls, one of our board-certified, subspecialty trained radiologists will study the MRI scans and help your doctor make a diagnosis quickly and efficiently.
In general, we make results available to your doctor within 24 hours of your scan.
Dr. Perry Gilbert is board-certified and the medical director of radiology services for Ingalls Health System, which is a member of the Southland Health Alliance.